What made my chocolate fondue go crazy?

For New Year’s Eve, I made a chocolate fondue and something strange happened to it: It became very greasy, as if the cocoa butter had separated and refused to be reintegrated. In the end, it made for a very frustrating fondue experience. People would dip strawberries in and they would get coated with grease but not chocolate. Anybody know why this would happen?

Some details: I’ve successfully made this recipe before. Heavy cream heated to very hot, bittersweet chocolate melted in it, and a little bit of brandy added. I know I made two mistakes while making, though. First, somebody asked me a question as I was heating the cream and when I turned back, it had gone into some superbubbly state, so that the entire pot seemed to be made of nothing but cream bubbles. Second, when I realized that I didn’t add enough brandy (I was making a double recipe, but hadn’t double the liquor), I grabbed a bottle of peach schnapps and added it without realizing.

Did you use ultra-pasteurized heavy cream? It can be temperamental at higher temperatures.

Sounds like water in the chocolate.

From my very inexperienced perspective, I’d say you overheated it - it sounds like what always happens to my cheese sauce (someday I’m going to learn to make cheese sauce properly), with the cheese going lumpy and the grease sitting on top.

If you overheat chocolate, the cocoa butter separates out from the solids, especially if you don’t stir it. Most recipes say to melt chocolate over a low heat (e.g. double boiler) for this reason. It sounds like the cream was getting up near boiling point (hence the mass of bubbles), which is too hot for chocolate to cope with.

I’m not sure if this would work, but you could maybe try taking it off the heat and beating it while it cools. You might be able to get the cocoa butter to go back in with the solids.