Friday, February 21, 2014

Chocolate Fondue Dipping Party

My nephew chose a chocolate fondue theme for his 7th birthday party, so I made sure to bring loads of "safe" stuff for my girls and I to eat!

Most chocolate not only has milk or milk powder added as a filler (even some dark chocolates!) but also an artificial vanilla flavoring called "vanillin" (not to be confused with the natural vanillin found in vanilla beans. The label will specify! I've only ever seen "natural vanillin" twice!) Artificial vanillin is either made from the lignin as a wood pulp manufacturing byproduct, or more commonly, is made from petrochemicals. Since Z has neurological side-effects from other petrochemical food additives, and I've seen behavioral issues when she gets too much artificial vanillin, we just avoid it altogether.

There are several chocolates I've found at the grocery store that are "safe," vanillin-wise, which includes regular Nestle chocolate chips. But I prefer stocking up on Ghirardelli and Lindt dark chocolate bars, since some of them are dairy-free too, and melt like a dream, since they have extra emulsifiers (oils) already added in. No, they aren't organic or fair trade. But I'm not melting down $30 worth of chocolate bars for the girls to drip all over the table! So I stock up on these when they go on sale for $2 or less (regularly around $4) at places like Safeway and Rite Aid. And save the "good stuff" for savoring a little bit at a time!

My mom was all impressed when I handed my sister a stack of Ghirardelli and Lindt dark chocolate bars to melt down, since in our family, Lindt and Ghirardelli are considered the "good stuff." But in my house, they're now the "cheap stuff," since they're the least expensive option for us!
For dipping, I brought some freeze-dried banana chips and gluten-free "Oreos" from Trader Joe's, gluten-free Glutino pretzel chips (they're larger and flatter,) dye-free Hammond's peppermint sticks, gourmet gluten- and dye-free marshmallows, and some home-made gluten-free "Oreos" from MOMables. My sister had pretzels and marshmallows for her kids, plus I had a sleeve of regular Oreos I'd gotten free from something that I brought for them. But the hit of the day were the fresh strawberries!

Needless to say, my girls were beyond thrilled at having an all-you-can-eat chocolate smorgasborg! After they were done licking and double-dipping everything, my sister went to town dipping as much stuff as she could fit on her extra baking trays, to use up all my extra dark chocolate! She also helped me make and photograph some chocolate-dipped orange wedges for MOMables!

My Sister

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