Chocolate fountains add a fun, interactive dessert to a party or special event. Hiring someone to bring and run your chocolate fountain can be a waste of money. As long as you know the small nuances of setting up your materials and choosing your chocolate, you can easily set up and run your own cascading fountain of chocolate.
The chocolate fountain itself is the most important item for the process. The fountain should be sturdy and must be placed on a level surface. In general, chocolate fountains are easy to start, only needing to be plugged into a wall. Once plugged in, the fountain only needs to be turned to the specific desired temperature. For the best results, the temperature should be kept at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choosing your chocolate for the fountain is key to the taste of the finished product. For the best results, purchase chocolate that is already in small pieces. Chocolate chips and chocolate wafers will make the melting process simple and easy. When choosing chocolate, use a chocolate that has a high cocoa butter content. This fat level will allow the chocolate to stay melted at a lower temperature level. Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate can be used. Each chocolate fountain has its own requirements for the amount of chocolate you should or can use in the fountain at one time, but most chocolate fountain brands will recommend that you use 15 to 25 lbs. of chocolate for the event.
You will know that it is time to refill the chocolate when the stream of chocolate begins to break. When there is not a continuous flow or there are breaks in the flow, you need to add chocolate to the fountain.
The heating process is key to the look, feel and taste of your chocolate. If you melt the chocolate too fast, or melt at a heat that is too high, the chocolate may burn and change in taste. Chocolate fountains will keep the chocolate at the correct temperature, as long as they are turned on 15 minutes prior to use. Once you have the fountain preheated, you need to melt the chocolate. There are three methods to consider when melting chocolate for a fountain: the fountain itself, the microwave, and the stove.
Chocolate fountains themselves can melt the chocolate in the bottom pan of the fountain. This is a great way to slowly melt the chocolate and avoid possible burning. A double boiler on the stove is also a good way to slowly melt chocolate. It gives you more control and it is easier to consistently stir than the fountain base. Using a microwave to melt the chocolate is comparatively inconvenient; you must constantly start and stop the microwave to stir the chocolate, making sure that it is not burnt.
Choosing the right types of food to use in the fountain is important to the overall success of the fountain. Use larger types of fruit, such as strawberries or sliced bananas. Smaller fruits, such as blueberries, will get lost in the fountain and may clog the system. While cake pieces are a fondue favorite, the crumbs from the cake can clog a chocolate fountain. Clogs are difficult, if not impossible, to remove while using the fountain; consider using marshmallows instead of cake.
The best medium for serving the food is a toothpick. A large pack of toothpicks is inexpensive, allowing guests to use one toothpick per dipped item. The toothpicks will make it easy for guests to dip their food without creating a mess.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Those who own their own chocolate fountain will need to know how to clean it. Chocolate fountains are made to come apart. You can easily wash each section using the simple hot water and soap that you use in your home. Cleaning is necessary for sanitation, but is also important to avoid clogging. Cleaning will help to prevent clogging in future uses, but will also clean out any current clogs.
Those who are renting a chocolate fountain will need to speak with the rental company to understand the cleaning and maintenance process. Some companies may require you to clean the unit before returning it while others will be willing to take care of the cleaning process for you. Be sure to understand these expectations before renting the chocolate fountain.