The fresh herbs and wine in this fondue add a decadency that masks how simple it is to prepare. Play up this entertaining classic by stirring in luxurious ingredients like fresh lobster, crabmeat, sautéed mushrooms, or spinach. Crisp tart apple slices are good for dipping; you can also use carrot sticks, roasted potato wedges, or bread cubes.
Melt the butter in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the Chardonnay and 1/4 cup water, and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, toss the brie with the cornstarch to coat and then whisk into the wine until the cheese completely melts, about 2 minutes. Stir in the thyme and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Taste and add more pepper or salt if needed. Transfer to a fondue pot, set out long skewers, and let guests serve themselves by dipping the apple slices into the fondue.
Photo: Maren Caruso