A chocolate fountain is essentially an apparatus made from stainless steel that serves molten chocolate fondue. A motor at the base of the fountain is used for heating the prepared chocolate morsels that are placed in a heating tray. A central corkscrew pushes the molten chocolate up through a column. Upon reaching the top of the fountain, which may be 2-4 feet in height and have multiple tiers, the chocolate flows down. The chocolate flows into one tray and spills on to the next till it reaches the bottom tier. After the chocolate cascade reaches the base of the fountain, the whole process is repeated again. The first melting of the chocolate can also be carried out in a microwave or a double boiler. The fountain is placed on a base that is sturdy enough to hold around 40 kilograms of weight and is close to a power socket.
Chocolate high in cocoa butter, such as couverture chocolate, is ideal for use in fountains. The chocolate can be either milk or dark. Chocolate low in cocoa butter must be supplemented with vegetable oil; however, this hampers the smoothness and taste of the chocolate.
Chocolate fountains are available as home and commercial versions that can be used for a variety of occasions such as parties, film premieres, bar mitzvahs, and product launches. A home fountain is ideal for a gathering of around 25 people.
Chocolate fountains are available for rent from catering companies and party supply stores. These also provide an attendant who ensures that the fountain works properly, the chocolate cascades smoothly, and there is no abuse of the fountain at the hands of eager children. Tidbits such as fruit pieces, cheesecakes, marshmallows, etc are kept around the fountain. These can be skewered on to toothpicks and dipped in the fountain. Generally, anything that is not liable to crumbling will be fine for dipping in a chocolate fountain.
Chocolate fountains can be rented at an hourly rate that includes the charges for the attendant's services and the cost of the chocolate used. Usually, chocolate fountains are operated for no more than two hours during a party; normally they are functioning when appetizers and desserts are served. They can also be an additional item in a buffet. Installing a chocolate fountain in the outdoors is not recommended as insects get drawn by the aroma of chocolate and breeze may disrupt the flow.