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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party!

September 2012  

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

Let's Party!  Special celebrations, this month:   Chocolate Fountains

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith

Chocolate FountainIt’s time to celebrate! At some time in our lives we will want to mark a landmark anniversary, birthday, or another occasion with a special event. In this month’s feature on entertaining and celebration, we look at sparking up a party with a chocolate fountain.


When chocolate fountains first came in, people thought they may be a bit of a party fad that would soon go out of fashion.

In fact, they have been such a great success that they are still a top favourite for celebrations of every size and many people are now purchasing their own fountains to use at small family gatherings and celebrations.

One of the big attractions about a chocolate fountain is that they make such a centre piece and talking point, so they can really help people to relax and start talking. Also, you can use them with so many different foods, from strawberries and other fruits to marshmallows or biscuits. A colleague even said they serve celery and carrots with their chocolate fountain and the flavour is fabulous! I guess if you love chocolate, and most people do, then it can pretty well go with most things.

For a beautifully flowing chocolate fountain, you need to use “couverture” chocolate. This is chocolate that has cocoa butter content of between 33% and 44%. This is easy to buy at most shops which sell a range of chocolate. You can use other types of chocolate, but they may require the addition of vegetable or canola oil (on a ratio of around half a cup of oil for 2.5 lbs of chocolate) to ensure you end up with a good consistency that will flow properly.

Some chocolate fountains can melt chocolate from a hard state but for most, it is recommended that you gently melt the chocolate first before pouring it into the base of the chocolate fountain. A double saucepan on the hob (ie a top saucepan based over a lower pan of boiling water) is one of the best ways to melt chocolate but you can use a microwave on medium heat. However, during melting the chocolate needs to be stirred constantly to ensure it melts evenly.

Always turn on the chocolate fountain in good time to ensure it has warmed up sufficiently before you add your liquid chocolate. Once you gain confidence, you can start adding flavour to the chocolate such as amaretto. The important thing here is to ensure the finished consistency is perfect for a good flow.

Inside the unit there will be either a corkscrew system to lift the chocolate to the top of the fountain or a small pump. Different models use different mechanisms. It is important that all aspects of the fountain are kept spotlessly clean and this is especially important with the smooth outside flowing area of the fountain to ensure the chocolate runs down evenly over all the surface to create that fabulous visual effect.

Really, with the modern machines it is all very straightforward and simple and after use cleaning is also straight forward. Most fountains are made of stainless steel with components that are easy to wash. The pump, if there is one, will be silent.

The big thing to keep an eye on is guests dropping things into the fountain. Any cake or biscuit that can dissolve easily into crumbs is a no no for the fountain as the bits could clog up the works. It is also very tempting to dip fingers into the fountain, so always ensure there are heaps of plates and napkins around the fountain.

It isn’t really a good idea to try and use a fountain out of doors, not just because a cool breeze could cool, thicken and even set the chocolate as it flows out of the top of the fountain, but also because the sweetness could attract flying wasps and other unwelcome insects.

But indoors on a lovely decorated table with bowls of strawberries and dipping biscuits, a chocolate fountain really can add a lot of fun and a real conversation piece to a party.

Today you can hire and also buy chocolate fountains in a wide range of sizes and designs. Some have illuminated bases to add real sparkle to the flow; some have built in skewer holders, and so forth.

Really chocolate fountains can add enormous fun to an event, and today chocolate is quite an affordable party food, so the fountain can also be a good way to add a touch of extravagance to a party without breaking the bank!

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