Tips for using a chocolate fondue fountain?
- sweet ginger Jan 2, 2007 02:07 AM
So a family member has a new chocolate fountain and we thought we'd try it out. It was not pretty. Chocolate was gloppy and thick, even with the addition of oil (as directed in the manual) to thin it out. Does anyone have some tips for us for future use? I'm assuming we'll need to turn on the heat much earlier? And any recommendations about how to get the chocolate smooth and thin so it cascades down each level nicely? Are there better ways to achieve this without the use of so much oil?
I'm sure what type of fountain you have but my sister in law went all the way out and bought the high end fountain with built in chocolate melting/heating mechanism. We didn't have to add any oil to our chocolate. Simple to use and chocolate was flowing beautifully.
Based on our experience make sure you use good quality chocolate, that the plate is heated so chocolate doesn't seize, the fountain is level as that affects flow of chocolate and lastly that there is PLENTY of chocolate to flow.
Hope that helps.
I have one of the inexpensive fountains that are sold everywhere and have had great success - my feeling is that it's the chocolate that makes the difference between success and failure. I used the bulk stuff from Trader Joe - I think it was Guittard but could have been Ghirardelli. It was semi-sweet I believe...
Over the past year I have seen the home models continue to drop in price. Last years 100.00 model sold for 40.00 at Christmas. What has me curious is...how's the cleanup on a fondue foundtain? Once you are done enjoying it are you left with alot of melted chocolate? Do you reuse the chocolate it?
Could moisture in the air have had something to do with it too? I seem to remember that you are supposed to work with candy on dry days only...
I followed the directions that came with my fountain. I chopped the chocolate into small pieces (DH did this part for me). Put the chopped pieces into a large metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, water not touching bottom of bowl (improvised double boiler), added oil per unit instructions and melted choc.
My fountain does not melt the chocolate but keeps it warm once it's been melted. Maybe it was beginners luck but I had no problems with it at all, other than too many kids trying to stick their skewers of fruit/marshmallows into the cascade at one time!
I didn't find the clean-up daunting, just poured the left over choc into a plastic container and stuck it in the freezer. While there was some leftover, it wasn't all that much. I think I had used about 5 lbs. and probably had 1 or 2 lbs. left. Haven't used it since...
I think that the moisture in the air thing involves candies that are sugar based like toffee, etc. but I'm definitely no authority on candy making!
re: sweet ginger
It's such a rush when you pour the melted chocolate into the fountain and turn it on...... as it comes up and out of the top and cascades down over the next tier then into the bowl at the bottom.... from the 3-year olds to the 90-year olds, everyone goes "Ooooooh"! It's such fun!
I use real butter or vegetable shortening not oil to thin the chocolate. I have never had a problem with any of my fountains. I use them a lot. Several times a year.
You need to use a chocolate with a very high percentage of cocoa butter. It should be noted that milk chocolate is particularly problematic due to the milk solids, which if the heat is too high, will coagulate and completely ruin things. (were you trying milk chocolate, perchance?) But again, it's the cocoa butter percentage that matters. 45% is a good point of departure. For that look at the nutrition information to determine if at least 45% of the portion weight is listed as fat grams.
This is the most common problem people have, in fact: somehow it's not widely made known that chocolate fountains need very-high-cocoa-butter chocolates. The very highest of all, and they will flow beautifully, although the flavour is rather muted, is Hachez. They have a 77% chocolate with an astonishing 55% cocoa butter. A high-quality choice would be Bonnat; I would strongly recommend it if you can afford it.
Many of the larger companies (e.g. Callebaut) make special-purpose fountain formulations with very high cocoa butter. If you look on the websites of people like Callebaut, Valrhona, Felchlin, etc. you can usually find suitable chocolates.
If the fountain has adjustable temperature, you want to set it to the lowest setting that will produce acceptable flow. Higher temperatures perversely can worsen things, because it encourages the fat to coalesce as it becomes very fluid, and the cocoa particles themselves drop out of suspension.
The other way you can go wrong is if you were dipping things with some water content. As usual, small moisture introduction in flowing chocolate will cause it to seize. For instance, if you use strawberries, and wash the strawberries, it's going to be fatal almost every time, as the clinging droplets seize the chocolate coming down the fountain. Fruits in general are difficult, you have to make sure they're thoroughly dry and limit the number of dippings. Anything that has external moisture tends to be problematic eventually.