The Lead

Sweet Dreams are made of this

I confess: I’ve fallen in love. But it’s not what you think. And, although the object of my affection is tall, dark, and deliciously handsome, my passionate ardor will, alas, remain forever unrequited. After all, what can you expect from a 34-inch, stainless steel sweetheart that discharges molten chocolate?

Chocolate aficionados from coast to coast are queuing up to plunge scrumptious treats (even potato chips) into these multitiered samovars, available to purchase or rent through caterers, event planners, hotels, and specialty outlets. Chocolate fountains are rapidly becoming a staple at movie premieres, charity and corporate events, political bashes, and weddings.

Jon Russikoff and Donald Silverstein, partners of Chocolateria at The Commissary in Rancho Mirage, say their three-tiered Sephra Montezuma Fountain — named after the Aztec emperor who considered chocolate an aphrodisiac and allegedly drank it 50 times a day from a golden goblet — has been in high demand for events throughout the desert.

“We design the chocolate fountain experience to correspond with the events’ theme and décor,” Russikoff says. At a party hosted recently by Centex Homes at La Quinta Resort & Club, the fountain dispensed an undulating curtain of white chocolate to match the black and white Art Deco motif.

The $500 four-hour rental rate covers the fountain (including assembly and cleanup), up to 30 pounds of premium Belgian chocolate, and an on-site professional fountainier. Chocolateria also creates aesthetically luscious buffets, replete with fresh fruits, assorted cookies and cakes, marshmallows, pretzels, and, of course, skewers for a fondue-style spearing and dipping (an additional per-person charge applies).

The decadent dessert device is also a terrific icebreaker. At a party last October, guests were alternately gabbing about and mesmerized by the giant chalice as it gushed mouth-watering chocolate into a spacious basin designed to avoid drippage.

Like all great inventions, form and function are seamlessly integrated. In the Sephra fountains, 15 to 20 pounds of chocolate are “tempered” to the right consistency and for optimal tasting in a heated basin for approximately one hour at a temperature of up to 120 degrees. Once heated, a motor driven auger funnels the chocolate to the top for its final and delectable trajectory. (The chocolate may also be premelted in a microwave.)

Enthusiasts favoring texture and viscosity prefer specially formulated chocolate. The fountains accept other types; however, cocoa mixtures must be diluted with vegetable oil or cocoa butter. San Diego-based Sephra recently teamed with legendary Swiss chocolatier Callebaut to develop a high-grade Belgian fondue chocolate that flows with flawless consistency. In some fountains, caramel and fondue-friendly cheeses — think Gruyere, Emmenthaler and Appenzeller — may also be pumped to duplicate a Swiss-style fete.

Best of all, the fountains — which range in price from $2,199 to $3,799 — are a cinch to assemble. The tiers connect via notches, and most components fit easily into a dishwasher.

Chocoholics of the desert rejoice!

Rent a chocolate fountain from Chocolateria (202-0524), Spencer’s at the Mountain (325-2313), or Ultimate Events (340-4314)

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