If you're entertaining over the Christmas holidays or for any other special occasion, chocolate fountains promise to be a focal point for your guests. Surround it with a variety of fresh fruit and treats, and you're sure to have a great party-starter. Or are you?
In our test of two chocolate fountains, CHOICE found inconsistency is a big drawback. Chocolate with high cocoa content is recommended, but if low cocoa chocolate is used, adding vegetable or canola oil is supposed to help give a consistent flow. Following the Sunbeam’s instructions, our tester added 1kg of dark chocolate and a total of 250mL of canola oil, but the flow was too thin and slightly uneven. Adding the right amount of oil isn’t easy, not to mention off-putting. For the Liquid Chocolate fountain, she added its specialised chocolate and achieved a perfectly flowing sheet. Using this type of chocolate is recommended as no extra oil is required. Chocolate should be melted at an initial temperature of 50°C-60°C before being poured into the preheated machine.
Both fountains are easy to assemble and use, however the Sunbeam is noisier than the Liquid Chocolate. Don’t let any fruit or sweets fall into the bowl, as they can clog the auger and stop the motor, making unclogging very messy. Both fountains are also easy to disassemble for easy storage, but cleaning is far more onerous. After around 10 minutes of constantly running water and using detergent, our tester was still unable to perfectly clean either machine. The fountain is greasy after use, and chocolate gets trapped in all the nooks and crannies. Extra care should be taken as water can run into the workings when cleaning the base, and it’s a good idea to use a disposable tablecloth if you want to avoid cleaning the table as well.
Despite these downfalls, chocolate fountains are a unique way to entertain. One alternative to buying these machines is to rent one for your occasion – online sites and select specialist chocolate shops provide do-it-yourself packages that include the chocolate, sweets and serving utensils. Some even cater for large events, such as weddings.
Given the mess it creates, a chocolate fountain isn’t something you’ll be bringing out for every occasion. Buying the correct chocolate and all the fruit and sweets is also a costly affair. Hiring a machine for special occasions may be a cheaper alternative.