Tempering Chocolate to run Smoothly in a Fountain
After catering hundreds of weddings we finally figured out several “tricks” to make the fountain chocolate flow smoothly and look great. These work whether you are using a home type chocolate fountain or a larger commercial fountain in a catering event.
The first thing you must do is have the right type of chocolate. Although in a pinch it’s said you can use chocolate chips, they really don’t work the best. Chocolate that’s made for fountains will have a lower melt temperature and will flow smoothly. In a pinch, I recommend using the chocolate “almond bark” you find at most grocery stores in the baking section. To use this type of chocolate you must add a little more oil than normal, but it will work well and the flavor is pretty good.
Second, how you melt the chocolate is critical so it won’t burn. We begin the melting process by using the microwave at 50% power for about 2 minutes. Stop and stir. Repeat for another 2 minutes. We almost never go higher than 50% power. It’s just too much for the chocolate. Also, white chocolate tends to burn easier than milk or dark. The chocolate must be completely melted with no lumps before adding it to the machine. Next, a small bit of oil (approx ¼ cup) is added at the end of the melting process.
Third, use a paper towel to apply cooking oil to all the tiers and bowl of the fountain. Just helps with the viscosity of the chocolate flowing over the sides of the machine. Mix the chocolate/oil mixture thoroughly and then pour the entire container into the preheated fountain (fountain must be pre-heated!). Turn the unit on and let it flow for approx. 2 minutes.
Finally, turn the auger off for about one minute, allowing the melted chocolate to settle inside the machine and “burp” out any air. This one trick will make a huge difference! If one burp doesn’t do it, burp again. It also helps to make sure your machine’s “feet” are level. You may need to adjust one or more feet to get the flow just right after you’ve done all the above steps.
It almost goes without saying that you should invest in a quality fountain. We’ve tried several of the retail “home” models, and after a few events, the motors would flat out quit or the auger pins would break. They are designed for occasional (like once a year) use, not for caterers! Even the lower-priced professional models are great for starters, as they are designed for heavier use. If you’re using a machine frequently, stainless steel is the way to go.