Whether you’re using a big beautiful commercial chocolate fountain or a cute little home chocolate fountain, they all work basically the same way.
Lets look at setting up first
Pick a location away from very expensive things, air conditioning, swinging doors, dance floors, exterior doors, etc. If you are at a facility that dictates where you need to set up, be assertive if the location is bad.
It will ruin the event. don’t use a chocolate fountain outdoors unless you have a proper case the wind will blow the chocolate out, there’s nothing worse than a gust of wind blowing the chocolate all over you and your guests.
level your chocolate fountain on a sturdy table.
Levelling your chocolate fountain should be an easy job that takes a minute or two. Most fountains don’t come with a level, so go to your local hardware store) and pick up a small spirit level.
Adjust the feet so the fountain is level. Repeat with the level at different sides of the bowl. The more accurate you are, the better the flow of the chocolate.
A level fountain will allow the chocolate to flow evenly around the entire fountain.
Melt the chocolate ahead of time
Chocolate does not start to harden until it drops below 22°C. By placing the melted chocolate in tubs inside a cool box you will be insulating it from outside temperatures, it should remain liquid for several hours.
If you don’t have kitchen facilities at the event, you’ll be ready when you get to the event and prepared when you need to add more chocolate. The cool box can be stored under the table.
Putting the fountain together
Make sure the equipment is complete, clean and ready to use before you leave your base.
Carefully remove the pieces of the fountain and the power lead from the case.
The main part of the fountain is heavy. One or two people should place it where it will be used, preferably on a sturdy table I cover the table with a roll of florist acetate.
The fountain has three feet which can be adjusted for balance by turning them clockwise or anti-clockwise screw them all in before filling with chocolate to give you maximum adjustment. DO NOT PLUG IN YET.
Fit the narrow cylinder/ tube onto the three spikes in the bowl, insert the augur (blade) inside the cylinder so the end with the nodule is facing upwards make sure the base has connected.
Push the widest circular piece over the cylinder/tube until it is in place.
Repeat with the medium circular piece. The smaller ribbed cone piece should be placed on the top of the cylinder like a cup.
Test your chocolate fountain before you put the chocolate in it, to make sure it’s working properly.
Bring (or have) plenty of paper towels, sponges, flexible plastic bowl scraper or rubber spatula, extra chocolate, storage containers for leftovers.
Wear an apron, so you don’t get chocolate all over yourself.
And have a hairdryer and extension cord handy…this could be really useful before the event to quickly warm up the cold fountain components or after the function to melt any hardened chocolate left in the fountain.
Don’t leave the electric cord exposed for people to trip over.
Preparing the chocolate
My machine holds approximately 4kg of chocolate in the bowl. ( read the manufactures instructions for yours) You will therefore need to break up about 40 bars of 100g Milk/Dark chocolate bars into squares and store them in a plastic container or use commercial buttons.
It shouldnt take longer than 1.5 hours to melt the chocolate in the bowl before the fountain can be used. (unless you bring it already melted)
The power lead is inserted into the side of the machine and then plugged into a socket. An extension lead is usually required. DO NOT TURN THE GREEN SWITCH ON AT THIS STAGE (WHICH IS ON THE SIDE OF THE MACHINE) AS THIS WILL START THE FOUNTAIN AUGER TO MOVE!
Plug in the fountain to start heating up the bowl. The thermostat on the side of the machine should be set at 70/75c
Once the bowl is hot, add the squares of chocolate. You will probably not be able to add all of it at once but there will be more room once the chocolate starts to melt.
Turning the fountain on
When the chocolate is melted in the bowl. Measure 200g of cocoa butter and melt in the microwave or 180ml of sunflower oil into a measuring jug and pour it into the ribbed cone piece that is fitted on to the central cylinder and blade.
The oil lubricates the blade as it pours down and enables the chocolate to be carried smoothly once the fountain is in operation.
Wait for a couple of minutes until you see all the oil come out at the bottom and cover the chocolate.
Turn the green switch on to start the chocolate fountain. You will see the chocolate come up over the top and cascade down.
Leave it for a couple of minutes to let the butter/oil mix with the chocolate. The chocolate should now be flowing nicely and ready to use.
If it is flowing more on one side than the other, adjust the feet to ensure that it is level. You will find that the slightest adjustment will alter the flow of the chocolate.
Sometimes air gets into the system and ‘windowing’ appears which can be caused when there is not enough chocolate in the bowl.
If this happens, turn the green switch off for about 30 seconds and add more chocolate to the bowl but try to keep them towards the outer edge while they are melting so that the cylinder does not suck them up whole!
If more chocolate has been added it is advisable to add a little more cocoa butter to ensure that the chocolate will flow properly. Always turn the green switch off when adding butter and wait until you see it come out at the bottom, before turning the switch back on again.
Turning the fountain off
Don’t leave chocolate in the fountain after you’re finished. When it cools, it will harden. If someone turns on the auger with hardened chocolate in the fountain, it will could burn out the motor.
If you do leave chocolate in the fountain and it hardens, turn on the heating element to melt the chocolate. Then, using a hair dryer or heat gun, shoot warm air on the tiers and auger tube to melt the chocolate, freeing the auger and tier set from the chocolate. Even if the chocolate has hardened and you have re-melted it, it still is good and can be poured back into a Just Melt It! tub or storage container for future use.
The most difficult thing about a chocolate fountain can be the clean-up.
If you’re not going to have a place to clean the fountain, bring a few large plastic bin bags to put the emptied (but unclean) fountain in for transport home or to the kitchen.
You can’t believe how much chocolate an emptied fountain still has on it…and it can make one heck of a mess in your car if you’re not careful.
Cleaning the fountain
Put all the removable parts in the dishwasher or wash in a sink with hot soapy water. The bowl of the base should be wiped clean but DO NOT GET WATER INSIDE THE BASE UNIT as this will damage the heating element, and use a bottle brush for the tube.
Dry and wrap in cling film before putting back in the storage box
Re-using Fountain Chocolate
The golden rule is keep the chocolate in the fountain as pure as possible – i.e. no little residual bits of banana try not to serve crumbly food. If any moisture mixes with the chocolate then it will thicken it and maybe even seize the liquid chocolate and affect the fountain’s performance causing breaks in the ‘chocolate curtain’.
During the event, you will top up with melted chocolate from the holding tank or microwave, so at the end of the day you will have a fountain almost full of liquid chocolate.
You can turn off the augur & lower the thermostat temperature enough to keep the chocolate liquid and leave the Fountain switched on overnight.
Then cover the whole fountain over with a food grade bin bag to keep out dust etc.
The following day, turn up the thermostat and run the fountain after half an hour or so – it should ‘recover’ and with a bit of adjustment then run well.
I prefer to recommend that you simply decant using a paper cup under the curtain and tip it into Tupperware type containers with sealable lids, dismantle and clean the fountain as normal, or alternatively dismantle and put the chocolatey components (scrape as much liquid chocolate off as reasonably possible) and store overnight in clean ‘plastic bags’ ready to erect the next morning. Do not just drain out the chocolate and leave the fountain as is, because you will risk damaging the motor if the screw augur cannot freely run. Check the containers can fit into a microwave to re-melt the chocolate the following day to then put back in the Fountain. Then top up as necessary and if you don’t use the Fountain Ready Chocolate, then add Cocoa Butter (Mycryo) or some vegetable oil to get the right viscosity/flow ability.
Chocolate can be re-melted and used over and over again, but it has two main enemies: –
Water- watch you fruit does not have too much free juice & not too cold as it will pick up ‘condensation’ and some will inevitably get into the chocolate.
Air - like all high fat products, air will cause oxidization of the fat, and in time will become ‘stale’ tasting, always reseal half used bags of chocolates and protect chocolate from air.
Good luck and enjoy the chocolate!