So, when a lady from The LA Shop offered me a chance to review one of the products - of which a mini chocolate fountain was a choice - naturally I gave an enthusiastic yes!
The fountain arrived in a rather foreign-looking box and the packaging was a little beat up. There was a bit of a styrofoam explosion when I unpacked it...
I set it up, made sure all the pieces were there and in working order, looked through the instruction manual, etc. etc. Then I had to wait until we could buy the right chocolate to use with it.
Finally, my mom finds some melting chocolate, I read over the manual, and we're ready to get this baby going! I followed all the instructions for using the microwave to pre-melt the chocolate. The chocolate melted, the fountain engine ran properly.... but no chocolate flow ensued. My mom, my dad, and I all fiddled and speculated. My parents did everything they could think of to get the thing working while I entertained the guests that had arrived for my spa party. Eventually we just dipped our snacks in the chocolate in the bowl of the fountain. After the party, the fountain still wouldn't work, and some of the chocolate had scalded. Fail.
My mom and I were ready to write the thing off as a failure, but dad decided on Saturday morning to attack that thing and make it work!
He tried the slow-melt method in the instructions of leaving the melting chocolates in the bowl of the fountain on the heat setting for an hour, then turning on the fountain. Once again, the only results were scalded chocolate. Fail.
So then he decides that the chocolate's just too thick to flow properly, and adds milk. It starts to work, but then the chocolate just makes a gloppy mess. Still fail.
As always, when something goes wrong in the Russell kitchen, he hit the internets! Then discusses the problem with the momma. A fresh batch of melting chocolates, some shortening, and a few minutes later, we finally have a steady flow of gooey dark goodness!
Summary: do use melting chocolate, as the instruction manual suggests. And it's perfectly okay to follow the microwave technique of melting (I don't recommend the one-hour melt-in-the-fountain idea). But make sure to add shortening! Otherwise the chocolate's too thick and clogs up the auger, which is what makes the fountain work.
Oh, and that instruction manual? Personally I think the company should throw it out and start from scratch. It's full of typos, misspellings, and poor grammar. It calls for a minimum of four pounds of chocolate in a fountain with a two pound maximum capacity. And the melting instructions were no help at all. The instructions for setting up and clean up were okay, but I'd note that the removable pieces can also just go in the dishwasher. We've cleaned them that way twice already.
In conclusion, the fountain is awesome! The instructions for it are not.
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