Imagine walking into a room and seeing a fountain flowing with thick, warm creamy chocolate. Imagine the heavenly smells pouring forth as your eyes adjust to this breathtaking sight of graceful rivers of chocolate. Such a centerpiece is every host’s dream. And such a centerpiece is every guest’s delight.
But the reality of this glorious dessert can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re wondering what to serve before and with this exquisite dessert. With a bit of planning and some helpful tips, your chocolate fountain fantasy can become a reality.
Let’s start with items to dip in the fountain. Fruit, both dried and fresh, are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Small snacks like pretzels, marshmallows, Rice Krispies treats, and shortbread cookies are enhanced with a fresh layer of chocolate. For a decadent treat, brownies and baked cheesecake squares can be either dipped or eaten plain.
Beverages, such as coffee, mocha, or espresso, will help balance the chocolate’s richness. And for a very special occasion, try matching wine to the chocolate.
Many main courses would complement a rich chocolate dessert. Roasted red meats are a traditional choice. But chicken and fish with a soy or bourbon glaze would also pair well. For those choosing a Vegan or Vegetarian lifestyle, I would serve pasta with red sauce or a quiche with caramelized onions. For a gluten-free evening, roasted vegetables or even a baked eggplant parmigiana would be an ideal main course before the rich chocolatey finale.
- What Is A Chocolate Fountain?
- What To Dip In A Chocolate Fountain?
- Main Course Meals For Chocolate Desserts
- Pasta And Tarts
- Choosing A Chocolate Fountain
- Final Verdict
- Related Guides
What Is A Chocolate Fountain?
The first time I saw a chocolate fountain, I thought it was straight out of a Willy Wonky book. This many-tiered, automatic fondue machine was a large commercial one. But now, you can buy home versions that are about 18 inches high and are completely dishwasher safe.
The bottom bowl keeps the chocolate warm while the chocolate cascades over the tiers creating waterfalls of chocolate to dip your favorite treat. A central stem pumps the chocolate back up to the top for a continual graceful flowing effect.
What To Dip In A Chocolate Fountain?
There’s a lot of food you can dip in a chocolate fountain, all of which can be prepared well ahead of the party. Bring out your already prepared trays and bowls when it’s time to celebrate, and let the feasting begin.
1.Fresh And Dried Fruit
Strawberries and pineapples are the classic fresh fruits for chocolate, and their tangy acidity balances the robust flavors of cocoa. Leave the strawberries whole and slice the pineapples into bite-sized cubes.
For easy dipping, attach them to specially designed chocolate fountain sticks, or short skewers. Now it’s easy to choose one and dip.
One of my favorite chocolate fruit combinations is dried apricots dipped in chocolate. Try to find the largest ones available and arrange them decoratively on the plate with the fresh fruit. All the bright festive colors will add to the cheerful atmosphere.
And if you live by the adage, why only do when you can overdo – a more unusual but lavish combination is a plate of sliced bananas coated in peanut butter arranged on skewers. Again, you can assemble them ahead, and there’s no need to worry about the bananas turning brown.
Next to the fruit platter, I would suggest a baked sweets plate for easy dipping. Marshmallows, Rice Krispies treats, cream puffs, pretzel sticks, and shortbread cookies are all enhanced with a coating of rich chocolate.
They can all be made and arranged ahead, and just set them out with some small plates and napkins and watch them disappear. Warning: These combinations are incredibly addicting and rather drippy too.
For a decadent treat, small squares of brownies and baked cheesecakes fastened to short skewers would be appreciated by your dessert-loving friends.
The chocolate fountain will undoubtedly be the star of the show but don’t forget to have some special drinks to go with all the chocolate.
A variety of coffees, from espresso to mochas, would not only be delicious, but the bitter acidity of coffee helps to balance the sweetness of the desserts. If you’re lucky enough to have a multi-variety coffee machine, now’s the time to use it.
If not, it’s a little easier to serve an assortment of coffees if you have a machine that uses pods. But if all you have is a pan and water, that’s OK too. There are many good-quality instant mochas, espressos, and decafs that come in single-serving sizes.
My first thought for a festive evening is always champagne. I love champagne and am ready to open it at a moment’s notice. But chocolate is a little more demanding than normal food when paired with alcohol.
If you think about chocolate as a diva – dazzling in the right company but screaming when unhappy, you get a feeling of how undesirable champagne and chocolate can be. Even the official tourists’ office of the Champagne region in France warns against this combination.
A better pairing and much more pleasing to the tastebuds is wine. From Chardonnay with white chocolate to a Reisling with milk chocolate or a Merlot with dark would be a much better complement to your fountain.
Depending on the type of chocolate you choose and for a more detailed discussion, Kendall-Jackson, one of America’s larger wine producers, has an excellent chart for pairing wine and chocolate.
Main Course Meals For Chocolate Desserts
Unless you’re hosting a progressive dinner or it’s a potluck, you’ll need to think about what main course you’ll serve as well. The nice thing about chocolate is that there’s a wide selection of suitable main courses.
5.Red Meat Roasts
Roasted beef, lamb, and duck are traditional main course choices before chocolate desserts. The deep earthly flavors of roasted meat help prepare your tastebuds for the complex flavors of the cocoa.
6.Bourbon And Soy Glazes
If you prefer chicken, fish, and pork to red meats, add bourbon or soy glaze to help your appetite transition from lighter meats to chocolate.
Bourbon, a sugary extract from the Caribbean, has similar tasting notes to chocolate, and both ingredients have elements of vanilla, oak, and caramel.
Soy, with its earthy umami component, also lends richness and heartiness to the lighter meats. A simple glaze is all that’s needed to elevate the white meat and open up your palate.
Just like the flavor benefits of roasting meat, roasted vegetables too have a deep rich flavor when roasted. Whichever vegetables you choose, a simple seasoning lighted tossed in olive oil will easily blend with any of the roasted or glazed meat choices.
Pasta And Tarts
Meat is not for everyone, and with a pasta dish or tart with gluten-free ingredients, there are many Vegan, Vegetarian, and gluten-free options for a special occasion meal.
At most grocery stores, there’s a wide variety of gluten-free pasta. Pairing this with a red sauce, you’ll have a satisfying main course dish with the depth and strength to match your chocolate dessert.
9.Savory Tarts And Carmelized Onions
Savory tarts are simple to make, and you can even freeze them for weeks before the big day. I would look for ones without cheese and with more assertive and robust flavors.
The perfect tart, one worth the time to make yourself, would be a tart with caramelized onions. These naturally sweet onions are browned not from added sugar but from the slow cooking process.
In fact, I love them so much, I would even add caramelized onions as a topping for meats, over roasted vegetables, and in a pasta sauce.
Choosing A Chocolate Fountain
A chocolate fountain dessert is an investment of time of money. For a large party, you can rent one at a professional party rental store, and they will deliver the machine, and some will even provide the chocolate.
For a smaller home party, it will be more economical to buy it yourself. A small fountain, which holds 2lb pounds (about 20 people), is about 20% of the cost of a commercial rental that would serve 100.
Best Chocolate For A Chocolate Fountain
The most important consideration, though, is the type of chocolate. Because the chocolate needs to flow smoothly, regular melted chocolate will clump and clog the pipes. Couverture chocolate, which has a higher ratio of cocoa butter than baking chocolate, will stay smooth and won’t quickly harden after it’s melted.
However, couverture chocolate is expensive, and many people prefer to use a syrup especially made for chocolate fountains or make their own fountain chocolate. Any chocolate fountain recipe that has ½ cup of vegetable oil to 1 pound of chocolate will be smooth enough to keep the party flowing all night long.
A chocolate fountain can be your favorite go-to dessert for large and small group entertaining with the right ingredients and a little preparation.
Though my family truly believes the best thing to serve with a chocolate fountain is a spoon, a large one, or even a straw, I’d recommend against this choice.
For a more civilized but still delightful evening, fresh fruits and baked goods on skewers make for an easy fondue experience. A variety of coffees help to break the sweetness of the dessert, and a glass of well-chosen wine can balance out the bitterness of chocolate, leaving a smooth, velvety finish.
Don’t forget the main meal. Roasted red meats, glazed white meats, and pasta are all excellent choices and don’t require a lot of last-minute attention.
So next time you throw a party or volunteer to bring the dessert, remember that a chocolate fountain doesn’t require a lot of culinary expertise. But by choosing some of their favorite foods for dipping, your family and friends will treat you like a celebrity chef!
Kelly is a native of California. After graduation from UCLA, she began her travels living and cooking in Europe, Asia, and the Northwest. In Tokyo, she earned the Grand Diplôme, for both Cuisine and Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu.
Kelly is a freelance food writer. She started the website, Tokyo-Table.com, where she reviews Tokyo restaurants from the perspective of a professional chef. Kelly has written for publications in Asia and North America on all aspects of cooking. Kelly now lives in Los Angeles with her family and her vegetable garden.