A chocolate fountain can be a great addition to any party or gathering. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. A chocolate fountain can be a fun and unique way to serve dessert.
You have to use your fountain consistently to protect the integrity of your chocolate and address safety concerns in commercial venues. Efficient cleaning strategies will contribute to the longevity of your product and will assist in owning a fountain.
Here are a few tips on how to use a chocolate fountain:
Preparing Your Chocolate Fountain
The chocolate fountain experience can go off without a hitch if a few preparatory steps are taken to guarantee a successful presentation.
- Use a strong support surface.
Make sure that the fountain’s surface is sturdy enough to hold up to 85 pounds. The fountain itself is relatively light, but fresh fruit, skewers, and trays can make things heavy.
- Level the fountain.
Make sure the fountain is sitting level, or it may not operate properly and will flow unevenly.
- Use a dedicated circuit.
If you want to use a wall socket, plug the cord directly into it with its own circuit. To prevent unwanted tripping over the cord, tape it to the floor.
- Leave room for ventilation.
Vent holes are usually located on the underside of the fountain, so be sure not to block this area with linens or any other material to prevent over-heating of your fountain.
- Time your preparation.
During the melting process, consider keeping the central unit covered so it will maintain the correct temperature even after you turn on the fountain. Pay attention to the heated chocolate so that it does not lose its smooth texture. If melting it in the basin, know that this process may take an hour.
- Monitor the chocolate.
Both pre-melted and basin-melted chocolate need to be carefully watched after you first add it to your fountain. Always spoon the chocolate towards the center so that it can begin to flow correctly. You’ll need to continually stir it to get it to the right consistency.
Chocolate Melting Methods
There are three ways to melt fountain chocolate: on the stovetop, in the microwave and in the basin.
- Stovetop melting.
Place chocolate in a double-boiler that is not too hot. Stir the chocolate regularly while it’s increasing in temperature to prevent it from burning. A double boiler prevents the heat from boiling the chocolate and creating a hot, gritty texture that will ruin the dessert.
- Microwave melting.
Microwaves melt the chocolate faster than any other method, but it may not melt the chocolate if it is run for too long. Put chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl and microwave it on low heat for 30 seconds, then stir the chocolate. Repeat until the chocolate is melted and has a smooth consistent texture.
- Basin melting.
Make sure that you stir your chocolate frequently as you’re melting it in the basin. Basin melting may take as long as 1 hour, depending on the quantity and size of your fountain and the amount of chocolate you’re using.
Optimum Chocolate Temperatures
The quality of your chocolate will be influenced by the temperature you are using to melt it. If the temperature gets too high, the chocolate will burn, resulting in a mostly greasy texture and a bad taste.
Maintaining the temperature at an ideal level will ensure that you’ll get a consistently thick and silky texture in the chocolate, and it will prevent any changes to the quality of the chocolate.
Different dairy and cocoa percentages in dark, milk and white chocolate equate to differing consistencies in the chocolate, changing the melting and holding temperature of each.
Follow the chart below for a general idea of what temperature is best melting for each type of chocolate, but keep in mind that all chocolate is different and you may need to adjust these guidelines for your particular type of chocolate.
Though the chocolate’s color may initially look correct, keep in mind that the temperature of the basin is not precisely accurate, therefore using a candy thermometer is a good way to monitor the chocolate itself and ensure it’s being kept at the optimal temperature to flow correctly in your fountain.
|Chocolate||Fixed Basin Temp (ºF)||Approx Melting Time (min)|
Different chocolates are held at different temperatures during service. If your fountain is left running after the event or overnight, it is best to lower the temperature of the fountain to prevent burning and fountain overheating.
Follow these guidelines to find the best temperature for holding your chocolate:
|Chocolate||Fixed Basin Temp (ºF)||Chocolate Temp|
Other Uses for Chocolate Fountains
The best chocolate fountains can be used for more than satisfying a sweet tooth; they are an accessible and unique way to present many different kinds of dips at any type of venue. Here are some other dips you can put in your fountain:
- Cheese fondue.
A cheese fondue is a standard alternative and can be just as tasteful and sophisticated as chocolate. Most restaurant supply stores offer ready-made fondue for events, or it may be fun to experiment with your own homemade concoctions.
For a new twist on a sweet favorite, try presenting caramel fondue instead of chocolate for fountains. Specialty caramels are made that only require the addition of water and work just as well with fruits, cakes, candies and even chocolates.
- BBQ sauce and ranch dressing.
Fountains provide an accessible and less-mess option at barbecues and tailgating parties with the addition of barbecue sauce, and can also be used with ranch dressing for vegetables and chips.
Cleaning Your Fountain
Follow these simple steps to prolong the life of your fountain and ensure a sanitary product after each use:
- Clean up immediately. It is best to immediately clean the fountain after you are finished using it as chocolate can harden quickly as gets harder to clean as it gets harder. Turn off the machine and prepare for cleanup with a plastic bag, a spatula, a sponge and a mild detergent.
- Disassemble as much as possible. Most fountains disassemble into four parts: the auger tube, the auger, the bowl and tiers and the base. Taking apart the fountain will allow you to clean more thoroughly and run as many parts through the dishwasher as possible.
- Remove the excess chocolate. Take a spatula and remove as much of the excess chocolate as possible. Pick up any chocolate that can not be reached with the spatula using a sponge dampened with hot water. Excess chocolate should not be placed down a drain, as large quantities can clog the drain. Rather, place the remaining chocolate in a trash bag to be disposed of.
- Use the dishwasher. In most cases, every part except the electrical base can be run through the dishwasher to ensure a thorough cleaning. However, if your tiers are made of plastic, it is best to check with the manufacturer before placing them in a a dishwasher.
- Check the auger. The auger, the spiral central tube that generates the chocolate movement, can become clogged with chocolate, so be sure to check it even after it goes through the dishwasher.
- Hand wash the base. The base itself cannot be cleaned in the dishwasher, but if the basin is attached it can be filled with water for cleaning. If there is chocolate speckled around the base itself, it is best to remove it with a sponge and hot, soapy water.