A step-by-step guide to create a self-serve hot chocolate bar customers will be thirsty for
Winter is coming, and so are customers’ cravings for a customary hot beverage. Their top choice might not be what you think. Market research firm Datassential, found that 81% of consumers love hot chocolate, while only 16.4% of US menus offer this chocolatey elixir. Give customers what they’re thirsty for while creating a fun seasonal environment — host a self-serve hot chocolate bar.
Don’t think you need to make a major investment in new furniture to accommodate. The bar can be as simple as adding a hot water dispenser with hot chocolate packets near your toppings bar or self-serve bins (if you have a commercial hot chocolate machine even better). Since the hot chocolate is the main event, try to have a variety of dark, milk, and white from premium brands like Godiva or Ghirardelli to add perceived value to the experience.
Next comes the easy part – the topping and decorating! Your existing self serve bins and toppings bars are a great place for inspiration for fixings. Below are some of our suggestions and favorite combinations.
Give that Hot Chocolate Some Bling
Think of the hot chocolate as a blank canvas, ready to be dressed up. Customers’ tastes are the palette, using classic bulk confectionery items like crushed candy cane pieces, chocolate drops, toffee bits from Heath or Hershey’s Skor, or peanut butter chips. Just a few spoonfuls take ordinary hot chocolate to the extraordinary. Go outside the norm with the unexpected additions like Nassau Candy’s mini milk chocolate sea salt caramel sandwich cookies – they’re not just for dunking! The sandwich cookies ‘melt in’ giving an extra boost of chocolate, salty caramel notes, and a cookies and cream feel. Plus, there is a delightful, spoonable cookie crumb treat at the end.
Don’t forget the topper! Much like an ice cream sundae isn’t complete without the whipped cream and cherry, a cup of hot chocolate isn’t complete without the marshmallows, chocolate and caramel sauce, and, yes again, whipped cream (it’s the condiment for all seasons). Flavored marshmallows like those from Smashmallow add another layer of flavor that will have customers talking.
While they may be inspired to develop their own creations, some customers will need a little help. Create signage with example combinations to display near your bar. The following are some of our favorite hot chocolate concoctions.
- Peanut Butter Cup – Peanut butter chips and chocolate drops stirred in, chocolate syrup topped with a Smashmallow hot cocoa.
- Peppermint Bark – chocolate drops and crushed peppermint candy cane stirred in, chocolate sauce, topped with Smashmallow mint chocolate chip.
- Chocolate Covered Strawberry – chocolate drops stirred in, topped with Smashmallow Strawberries and Cream, and whipped cream.
- Toffee Chip: Heath Bar Bits and chocolate drops stirred in, topped with Smashmallow toasted vanilla, chocolate and caramel sauce.
- Cookies ‘n Caramel: Nassau Candy mini milk chocolate sea salt caramel sandwich cookies stirred in, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, topped with Smashmallow toasted vanilla .
- Mexican Hot Chocolate: stir in cinnamon and top with whipped cream and Smashmallow cinnamon churro.
Meet you at the hot chocolate bar
Hot chocolate is a flavor of the winter holidays; that special time of year when seasonal limited time flavors are in demand. A hot chocolate bar is a fun family-friendly activity that caters to this demand while driving additional foot traffic. Merchandise baked goods and cookies near your hot chocolate bar, for those impulse sales. Want to get in on the fun but don’t have the space in your business for a hot chocolate bar? Create hot cocoa gift baskets or gift bags so customers can create their own cocoa bar at home.