1. Chocolate fountains require the use of "coverture" chocolate. This high-quality chocolate contains extra cocoa butter which, combined with the processing, gives the chocolate a mellower flavor and makes it creamier, allowing it to flow easily through the fountain.
2. You can melt the chocolate in a double boiler, a microwave, or in the fountain itself. The base of the fountain does have a heating element but melting the chocolate this way may take a considerable amount of time. The most time-efficient method is to melt it in a double boiler before adding it to the fountain.
3. Some of the most popular foods to use in a chocolate fountain are strawberries and other fruits, marshmallows, biscotti, Vienna fingers, and caramel squares. You may want to avoid foods that can crumble as pieces may fall into the fountain and make the chocolate lumpy and unappetizing.
4. Fountains may operate by pumps or augers. An auger is a screw-like device that rotates to move the chocolate to the top of the fountain through a cylinder. Pumps contain many internal parts and small passages, all of which must perform perfectly to work properly. If a passage gets blocked, the pump won't work. An auger eliminates this clogging possibility.
5. It is best to clean your fountain while the chocolate is still in a liquid state. Pour out remaining chocolate from the base and wash with warm water. Do not submerge the base. Submerge the tower, the auger, and the crown in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher if they will fit.
6. Before using a chocolate fountain outdoors, you may want to consider a couple of things. Maintaining a warm temperature is critical for smooth operation and this may prove difficult at certain times of year. Also, the sweet smell of chocolate may attract flying insects, which would make for a very unappetizing presentation.
7. Try to ensure that your fountain is always as full as possible. This gives you a better chance of creating that nice looking fountain. Also, you should figure that one pound of chocolate will feed approximately 10 guests.
8. Small or mini fountains should be adequate for smaller parties, like bridal showers or holiday gatherings in your home. If you plan to serve more than 100 people at events like wedding receptions or proms, you should consider using a commercial chocolate fountain.