Chocolate fountains are a fun alternative to plated desserts at a reception, cocktail party or other celebration. While it may look effortless to your guests, a chocolate fountain requires some preplanning and preparation on your part.
You can use any type of chocolate in your fountain, but there are differences to consider:
- Couverture chocolate has between 32 and 39 percent cocoa butter. Pastry chefs turn to couverture for dipping or enrobing fruits and other items.
- Regular, or eating, chocolate often contains emulsifiers to replace some of the cocoa butter. This lowers the price, but also lowers the quality of the chocolate.
- Chocolate chips contain stabilizers that allow them to hold their shape during baking.
If you use a high-quality couverture chocolate in your fountain, you will not need to add oil to it. The high cocoa butter content allows it to flow smoothly. If you use less expensive chocolate or chocolate chips, you will need to add between 1/2 and 1 cup of oil per 5 pounds of chocolate, depending on the brand and the atmospheric conditions.
Humidity and temperature can affect the viscosity of melted chocolate. Oil thins the chocolate, helping it flow more smoothly through the fountain. If the room is cold or humid, you will need to use more oil than you would on a warm, dry day.
Use a neutral flavored vegetable oil, such as safflower or canola oil, in your chocolate fountain. Its purpose is to alter the viscosity, not the flavor, of the chocolate.
Add the smallest amount of oil you think you'll need to the chocolate before melting. If the chocolate is still too thick, stir in small amounts of oil until you reach the ideal consistency.
Depending on the size of your gatherings, you may want to display more than one fountain. A small unit will serve 100 to 150 guests, while a large one can serve up to 800. Using two or three units allows you to offer a variety of dipping sauces. Consider these ideas:
- Chocolate trio: Set up three fountains offering dark, milk and white chocolate
- Sundae fountain display with chocolate, caramel and strawberry sauces
- Savory sauces such as ranch dressing, queso and barbecue sauce.
Be sure to use a smooth strawberry sauce without chunks of fruit that will clog the fountain.