Alisa Bangerter, Studio 5 Party, Holiday and Idea Contributor shares her tips to make using your chocolate fountain a breeze!
There are many models of chocolate fountains available. Do online research and read customer reviews before purchasing. Some fountains have variable heat controls, some come apart to wash easily, some have adjustable feet, some are more attractive, etc. Sephra is a good brand I would recommend. Lower end chocolate fountains often work fine but are very noisy. Higher end fountains are usually very quiet. If you don’t wish to purchase one, commercial chocolate fountains can be rented for parties.
Make sure to read the instruction manual that came with your fountain. It will give specific instructions, tips and tricks for making your fountain work well.
Before use, turn on the fountain after assembly (if needed) to make sure parts are hooked together well and running. This will eliminate having to empty chocolate after adding it if you have any problems.
ALWAYS melt chocolate before adding to the fountain. You will need a certain number of pounds of chocolate minimum to make it operate (usually about 3-5 lbs, check your instruction manual). Plan on about ¼ cup per person for serving plus you will need the several pounds that will always remain in the fountain to make it work. Chocolate may need to be added during use. After use, if chocolate is still debris free (no crumbs, etc.) you can save it or pour it over nuts or other items to make treats.
Make sure your fountain sits level so the chocolate will cascade evenly.
Chocolate fountains can be used for more than just chocolate (milk, white and dark). Caramel, ranch dressing (or other salad dressings), cheese sauces, barbecue sauces, etc. can be used. Check out this recipe for Strawberries and Cream Fondue: www.allchocolatefountains.com/2006/01/30/chocolate-fondue-fountain-recipe-of-the-month-strawberries-and-cream-fondue/#more-22
Do not use almond bark or candy melt/coating type chocolate. It will be thick and goopy and not run smoothly or may not run at all. If using chocolate chips or lower end chocolate you most likely will have to add cocoa butter or oil for smooth flow. Try to purchase chocolate specifically formulated for chocolate fountains – ready to use as is with no additions. Chocolate fountain chocolate can be found online, at many craft stores (make sure the package states it is for fountains) or at stores like Orson Gygi or Bakers Cash and Carry. Orson Gygi in Salt Lake City has a great selection of fountain chocolate as well as other items needed, including fountains. Remember – you get what you pay for when buying chocolate – in quality and taste (My favorite is Sephra Belgian chocolate).
Place your chocolate fountain(s) in the center of a table (make it be the centerpiece and statement piece of your party!) and place items to be dipped surrounding it. This allows guests to stand and dip and converse as well. (If you place the fountain separate from the items to be dipped – dripping occurs, people will start to eat the items without going to the fountain and it does not look as striking.)
Remember to place cloths or table coverings under your fountain that will not be harmed by chocolate. It will get dripped on. You may consider placing fabric napkins around the base of the fountain that can be changed as needed. Some fountain models have drip guards available for purchase as an option.
Provide plenty of napkins and small plates as well as forks for eating. Provide small ladles or spoons for obtaining chocolate if you are serving items that are hard to dip.
Place items to be dipped in small dishes at different levels around the fountain for visual interest.
Make sure to have a variety of dipping items available: some salty, some sweet and some fruit items. My experience is that fruit goes twice as fast as the sweet stuff. Try to avoid really crumbly items or items that might drop easily into the chocolate. If it happens, carefully remove the items to prevent your fountain from clogging up.
Use long wood skewers for dipping and provide forks for eating. Avoid using short or regular toothpicks – they do not work well and are not as classy.
Have someone appointed to watch over the fountain and help guests as needed, especially if children will be using it. Make sure to remind not to double dip or use fingers into the chocolate. It is appropriate to have small signs next to the fountain to remind guests to use a new skewer each time if they will be eaten off of or to use skewers for dipping and forks for eating.
Freeze some of the dipping food ahead of time to reduce crumbs getting into the chocolate or for easier dipping. Items that freeze well are fruit chunks and cake type squares. Some smaller items may need to be pre-skewered for guests (berries, grapes, etc.)
A great website/blog that has a ton of ideas and information about home and commercial chocolate fountains is: http://www.sephra.com/
Ideas for Dipping Items (for Chocolate)
angel food cake
donuts and doughnut holes
chocolate chip or other type cookie
pretzels (all types)
tiny cinnamon rolls
exotic fruits (kiwi, mangoes, papaya, etc.)
Rice Krispy treats
mini cupcakes or muffins
ice cream sandwich squares (must be kept frozen solid on ice)
berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries – already have these skewered)
grapes (already have these skewered)
nuts (use a spoon or ladle to drizzle chocolate on these)