Last night's Cementhorizon birthday extravaganza marked the debut of the chocolate fondue fountain that Dr. M and I got for Christmas. Behold:
It turns out that you don't just dump chocolate into the thing and magically get a chocolate waterfall. Not only do you have to melt the chocolate before putting it into the fountain, but you also have you add some proportion of vegetable oil to the chocolate in order to achieve the appropriate viscosity. As you can see, we missed the mark in the viscosity department (it's supposed to come down in a sheet rather than dribbles), so we'll use less oil next time. The dribbliness of the flow did not, of course, prevent partygoers from covering various things with chocolate and then consuming them. It just made it a more delicate enterprise:
The chocolate fountain is surprisingly easy to clean. And all the components (except the base, which doesn't get chocolatey because the bowl comes off) are dishwasher safe. I did a cursory wash in the kitchen under the supervision of our host's father, and it was refreshingly painless.
Somewhere there's a picture of me holding a jar of unused chocolate/oil, since I was dissuaded from pouring the leavings down the drain. I will post that picture here when it turns up.
Sadly, the chocolate fountain experience was not uniformly positive. A very important component of the fountain (the "cap," which is the thing that snaps onto the top of the pump tower and makes the chocolate flow out) has gone missing. Hopefully it'll turn up before next weekend, when the fountain is slated to make its sophomore performance at another party.
Also, a lot of people at the party were curious to see how the fountain actually works. It's a simple augur pump (or "Screw of Archimedes," as some folks referred to it last night) -- just a giant corkscrew that carries the chocolate up a plastic tower and then spits it out at the top. A "guard," similar in shape to the visible canopies but much smaller in size, lies at the base of the tower, submerged in the chocolate, preventing large bits of fruit and pastries from getting into the pump and mucking things up. It's startling in its elegance, really, although the many removable parts leave a great deal of room for despair.