Warm, decadent, fun to eat and easy to prepare, fondue is the ultimate December 31 party food. A few tricks: For the smoothest, creamiest fondue, keep the cheese in large chunks instead of grating it; and before you add anything, rub the inside of the pot with garlic for extra flavor. While it's traditional to use Gruyère, since its stickiness helps it adhere to bread and other dippers, Rachael Ray's recipe
also calls for the nutty-sweet, mellow Swiss Emmentaler
. You can get creative with dippers: For cheese fondue, Mitchell Rosenthal, who serves seasonal spins on the dish at his San Francisco restaurant Town Hall
, likes slices of fried sausage and soft pretzels. Other ideas: cocktail franks, mini meatballs, steamed broccoli, sautéed mushrooms, toast points and bread sticks. If you're making chocolate fondue, try pretzel rods, cubes of pound cake, potato chips (thicker ones work best), marshmallows and virtually any fruit.