Chocolate: Everything You Need to Know about Chocolate Fountains

Chocolate fountains are in!

Chocolate fountains are the rage these days. You see them at dinner parties, weddings, all sorts of celebrations. This article gives you all the in’s and out’s, from mini fountains to giant ones.

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Most Swiss chocolate makers make a special chocolate to be used in fountains. I would advise asking their opinion before attempting this, because it can be tricky and even dangerous. Last winter, I heard a story about a naked teenager falling into an oversized chocolate fountain in a party in Cologny and then running through the cold streets of Cologny before ending up in the hospital (escorted by the police).
This guest blog is by Edwin Hall, owner of the Chocolate Fountain Directory in Devon in the U.K.

What is a chocolate fountain?

A chocolate fountain is a device for serving chocolate fondue. It comes in many different sizes: mini, medium, large and extra large, depending on the number of guests you wish to cater for.

The fountain has multiple tiers over a heated basin at the bottom. The chocolate is melted in the basin and then pulled up through the augur and continuously flows over the tiers. When it flows over the tiers, guests are able to select a condiment they would like to dip into the fountain, using a skewer. They then select a dip of their choice and coat their item in delicious, warm melted chocolate….heaven!

Essentially, a chocolate fountain is composed of two parts. The base is the motor and a heater. The heater is designed to transpose heat through the base to keep the chocolate in liquid form.  The motor drives the screw in the upper part of the fountain.

This is an Archimedes screw, weren’t they clever! This is thought to have originated around 600 B.C., but I bet they never thought of a chocolate fountain then. The screw lies in a tight cylinder in a vertical fashion with several holes at the bottom of the screw. The screw lifts the chocolate to the top of the cylinder from where it flows over several plates and down the fountain to be recycled again. This is the basic premise of a chocolate fountain, because the chocolate is thick, there is no need for a pump as the screw is a better means for lifting the chocolate up.

Why have a chocolate fountain?

Chocolate fountains are a new and impressive form of entertainment. They create a fantastic focal point at any major event and provide your guest with a unique and interactive way of treating themselves to luxurious fondue chocolate.

Chocolate fountains are a great solution for weddings; they are a wonderful dessert or can be used for an evening buffet. Some people choose to have a chocolate fountain rather than a wedding cake,  because chocolate fountains are interactive and people can help themselves to as much as they like when they like.

What should you consider when booking a chocolate fountain?

Photo courtesy of Ultimate Chocolate Experience in U.K.

We recommend you consider booking you chocolate fountain at least 12 months in advance. They are very popular. You need to provide the following details to get an accurate quote:

  1. Number of guests the chocolate fountain is to cater for.
  2. Location of event.
  3. Date of event (if it’s a midweek event you often get a good discount).
  4. Duration of event.

Most people book their chocolate fountain for the evening and, on average, chocolate fountain companies hire their fountain for a period of 3 hours in the U.K. However, every wedding/event is different, if you require your fountain during the day or for a longer period of time etc, please discuss this with the chocolate fountain company you have chosen

Home chocolate fountains

Home chocolate fountains are mini versions of the commercial ones used for weddings and events. Unfortunately there is a lot of rubbish out there and we get calls regularly from people saying that their mini fountain doesn’t work.

Here are a couple of things that will help. Only use a quality chocolate that is made specifically for chocolate fountains. This tends to be more expensive but it is the key to success.  Chocolate purchased from your local supermarket doesn’t work unless you put oil in it, a good quality fondue chocolate doesn’t require oil.

The poorer the quality chocolate, the more oil you require. This is in fact a contradiction because standard chocolate bars typically contain around 20% vegetable fat anyway, but you will still have to add more oil because of the high level of impurities. If this doesn’t work, take the fountain back to the point of purchase and tell them that it is rubbish, maybe some of the high street chains will think again about selling consumers junk!

How do you get the most out of your home fountain?

Ensure that you have a variety of dips available. The best to use are strawberries, grapes and other fruits, such as pineapple and melon, but most any fruit works really well with chocolate.

Ensure that you have skewers and enough for your guest. These are readily available at a variety of shops, especially hardware shops that sell barbecues. Also ensure that you have some large napkins as you wouldn’t want chocolate dripping all over your floor.

Finally, presentation is key. Make sure that your skewers are kept together and that you present your home fountain as clean and attractive on a surface that is easy to wipe to ensure that drips don’t spoil your display.

Cleanup time!

Finally, after your event has finished, don’t turn the fountain off and go to bed. Start by disposing of the chocolate while it is still in liquid form, as this makes cleaning so much easier.

Disassemble your fountain and put everything except the motor assembly into a dishwasher or a sink full of hot and soapy water. It should then be easy to clean.

Before packing your fountain away, make sure that it is completely clean and dry to prevent any contamination.

Links: Ultimate Chocolate Experience (photos).