7 Best Chocolate Fountains | March 2017
- strong 170 watt motor
- 10 skewers included
- comes with 3 month warranty
- brushed stainless steel look
- fountain has thee smooth tiers
- easy to clean components
- most parts dishwasher safe
- adjustable feet for level, steady use
- measures 16 inches tall
- includes viscosity funnel
- whisper quiet motor
- removable stainless steel basin
Chocolate, Chocolate Everywhere And What A Treat To Drink
Chocolate is one of those flavors that produces an instant sense of euphoria and gratification that transcends virtually any sweet dessert. Because it evokes so many feelings of warmth, childhood, and the festive nature of the holidays, it's no wonder that a person would also want to have a way to serve it in its fanciful form at a party, hence the unique nature of serving the treat in liquid form to a large group of people.
A chocolate fountain is a special piece of cookware designed to serve chocolate in a fondue form. The fountain often resembles a stepped-up cone shape with stacked tiers, standing two to four feet tall, with a large basin at the bottom and a decoration at the top that is reminiscent of a pyramid or Christmas tree. The fountain's basin is typically heated in order to keep the chocolate in its liquid state. From the basin, the liquid chocolate is pulled into a center cylinder and vertically transported to the top by a corkscrew auger. From that location, it then flows over each tier, creating a waterfall or curtain of liquid goodness into which a variety of foods can be dipped, glazed, and covered.
These fountains typically fall into two categories, commercial and home use with the main difference between the two being their size. Commercial fountains range between twenty and fifty inches in height and are ideal for use in catering situations. Commercial devices are constructed from food-grade stainless steel and are typically rented to a party host. Depending on how large an event is, commercial fountains can hold up to thirty-five pounds of melted chocolate and these rentals come with an assistant to ensure that the units continue to function properly. Home-use fountains stand up to nineteen or twenty inches tall, they hold around five to six pounds of chocolate, and are made with a combination of plastic and steel components. The majority of home-use models are also dishwasher safe.
Because some may think of chocolate fountains as a fanciful gimmick, they might be quick to dismiss what makes the machines work, claiming there isn't much science behind their operation. In fact, there is a great deal of physics and chemistry to consider. Two components integral to the proper function of a chocolate fountain include its overall motion and the combination of the type of chocolate and additives used to ensure that its gravitational forces remain proportional to the consistency of the liquid chocolate itself. In other words, considering the fluid dynamics of the fountain as well as the shape of its tiers are both important factors.
When we discuss fluid dynamics, we are simply focusing on the science and mechanics behind how a liquid (or gas) behaves when it's in motion. What does this all mean? The surface tension of liquid chocolate causes it to fall inward as it flows, while the gravitational forces of the fountain's tiers allow the molten chocolate to cascade downward, producing that attractive waterfall effect. Liquids are also classified as either Newtonian or non-Newtonian in nature, which focuses on a liquid's behavior of motion relative to its viscosity (ability to resist deformation). Fluids like ketchup, mayonnaise, molten chocolate, and even lava are classified as non-Newtonian because their flowing behavior is less predictable than either water or oil.
Because it is an unpredictable, non-Newtonian fluid, the best type of chocolate for use in fountains is couverture chocolate due to its high level of cocoa butter. If the cocoa butter content of the chocolate is too low, then an additive must be mixed with it to decrease its viscosity and ensure a consistent flow. When this is needed, vegetable oil is a reliable additive, but even this must be used in moderation to prevent making the chocolate taste gritty or bitter.
Flowing In The Right Direction
Depending on the size of the event and the needs, one must first determine whether they prefer to rent a commercial fountain or purchase a home-use model. When investing in a home-use chocolate fountain, prepare for a bit of experimentation at first to ensure that you get the right mix of oil and chocolate for a consistent flow.
Remember that a home-use fountain won't be as tall as a commercial-grade unit, so balancing the chocolate's viscosity will be a bit tricky and require some trial and error. After all, the last thing you want is an overly-viscous chocolate that's hard for your guests to indulge in.
Secondly, a reliable heating element equipped with a variety of temperature settings is beneficial to keep your chocolate molten and hot enough without being burnt.
Stainless steel components (for the basin and tiers) are typically the easiest to keep clean and put in the dishwasher. Try to find a unit that comes with additional accessories such as dipping sticks or serving forks, which your guests can use to dip their foods into the fountain.
Finally, consider the power of the fountain's electric motor to keep the chocolate flowing. Some of the best fountains have motors offering up to 170 watts of power.
A Brief History Of Chocolate Fountains
Chocolate has been consumed for well over two thousand years. Its roots date back to the ancient peoples of Mexico and Central America. These people lived in locations where the cacao (cocoa) tree would grow in the rain forests. Ancient Mexican cultures mixed the pods of the cacao tree with water and other seasonings to make a spicy, chocolaty drink called chocolate. The ancient Mayans harvested cacao beans from these trees and went on to farm them in what became the first known cocoa plantations.
The popularity of drinking chocolate eventually spread throughout Europe with altered variations to its texture and flavor, particularly after the Spanish conquistadors returned to Spain with seeds collected from the cacao tree. By the Victorian era, chocolate became a solid confectionery and its popularity in this form has continued to grow ever since.
The first chocolate fountain machines for caterers were invented by Ben Brisman and popularized in 1991 by Canadian company Design and Realisation. These fountains were first displayed at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago by the early 1990s. Distribution and manufacturing of the product in the United States became more active at the beginning of the twenty-first century. By the end of 2004, chocolate fountains were introduced to the home consumer market with the Nostalgia Chocolate Fountain.
Popularity of the fountain has continued to increase in the retail market with growing numbers of requests for the machine at social events. In recent years, flavored oils and food coloring have been added to the fountains to give the chocolate an extra taste and to mark special holidays or occasions.