The most fascinating sight to behold during a party, besides your dream man or dream woman walking with you, is a chocolate fountain. The chocolate fondue or chocolate fountain is given a place of honor for party use, since it calls to mind endless frolicking in a rain of heavenly chocolate to wrap your favorite food items in the sweet embrace of the gods’ aphrodisiac that is chocolate. It can even be used for sauces and cheeses and condiments in some cases.
If you are the party host, it is important to know how to go about setting up this kind of equipment, making sure it works divinely and doing what is needed prior to packing it away till the next event.
Location, location, location
Knowing where and how to locate the centerpiece of the entire party is serious business indeed. For the chocolate fountain to be successfully presented, make sure it is set up where swinging doors, air conditioning ducts, exterior doors, dance floors and others are not right next to the unit. Should the party venue people disallow placement of the machine in a suitable location, be firm about it by explaining how draft, cold air, overheating and possible jarring due to movement by party goers can affect the flow of chocolate and possibly make it harden to an awful mass altogether.
The chocolate fountain has to be placed on a level or sturdy table indoors, with plenty of strong, stable support surface for the unit itself along with the plates, skewers and variety of food items laid out for the dipping.The underside of the unit is typically equipped with vent holes, and they should not be blocked by materials such as linen that can cause overheating of the system.
You might say placing it outdoors offers a lot of ventilation but no. A sudden strong gust of wind, just one, could make the chocolate flow not downwards but toward you and your guests. Do think about the possibility of an unexpected rainstorm as well. Additionally, insects in the night air could become part of the chocolate-coated items on the menu, so unless you want that, do not be tempted by the idea of placing the fountain outdoors.
The unit also has to be given its own wall outlet, as an extension cord could cause someone to trip accidentally (it is a party, so there’d be drinking, right?). If using an extension cord can’t be avoided, make sure the cable is taped firmly to the floor or protected with cord cover.
Preparing the chocolate
The chocolate can be prepared before the party and placed inside a plastic or styrofoam cooler for storage or transportation at temperatures above 70 to 72 degrees fahrenheit, at which it starts to harden. This insulates the chocolate from external temperatures while keeping it warm and in liquid form for a number of hours.
It is always better to melt the chocolate immediately before being placed in the chocolate fountain, as reheated chocolate will not have that desired smooth consistency.
The machine itself should be preheated before the chocolate is added. A cold metal bowl and tiers in a cold room will result in the hardening of the chocolate or improper flow rate.
Chocolate wafers can be melted on the stovetop using a double boiler over low heat while being watched carefully right before placing in the fountain. They can also be melted in the microwave on low heat for half a minute. Otherwise, you can achieve this by using the basin itself, which can be the slowest method but reduces the mess and requires less attention compared to the other methods. The chocolate goes in the basin and is allowed to liquefy, with constant stirring every 3 to 5 minutes.
A candy thermometer to monitor the temperature is needed here, as melting time and temperature depends on the type of chocolate used. Both milk chocolate and white chocolate melt in approximately 60 minutes in the basin at 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, melts in the basin in around 45 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Once melted in the basin, the chocolate should be pushed towards the center to start the liquid flowing in the machine.
Serving the chocolate
When served in the fountain, the chocolate has to be held at a specific temperature, again depending on the kind of chocolate used. To prevent burning of the chocolate and overheating of the machine especially during overnight parties, the temperature of the unit should be reduced.
Dark and milk chocolate should be held in a fixed basin temperature of 158 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit, and the chocolate be maintained at 115 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. White chocolate needs a fixed basin temperature between 140 and 158 degrees fahrenheit and a chocolate temperature of 105 to 115 degrees fahrenheit. For overnight flow maintenance, any type of chocolate needs a fixed basin temperature of 140 degrees fahrenheit and a chocolate temperature between 102 and 110 degrees fahrenheit.
The chocolate fountain should be immediately cleaned after use, taking apart as much as possible. Excess chocolate should be removed, placed in a trash bag for disposal as garbage, not in the drain. Save for the electrical base, every part of the chocolate fountain can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Plastic tiers, however, may need to be cleaned in a different way, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The spiral central tube or auger should be thoroughly checked before getting it into the dishwasher. The base should be cleaned by hand with a sponge and some hot, soapy water.