DIY Hot Chocolate Bar
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March is quickly approaching, but winter is still here! Nick and I are planning to go to a cabin for Valentine’s Day, so I am very much still in hot chocolate season / mindset. Perhaps it is my Texas roots, as February is still cold in Dallas. In contrast, Los Angeles, it is often the perfect mixture of a crisp breeze and the warm sun in February. Last month I helped host a wedding shower (in Dallas - it snowed, hah!) for my sister and one of our stations was a hot cocoa bar. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, so I’m happy that I finally was able to execute one and that it was for someone special.
Keep reading for our hot chocolate recipe along with topping and sweets board inspo!
PARTY SIZED HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE
You can totally use a pre-made powder if you’d like. I believe they sell large tubs of hot cocoa; however, I think it is better from scratch! I shared this hot chocolate recipe a while ago, which would for sure work; however, Nick has been making hot chocolates at our house as of late, so this is his (bulk) rendition.
2 gallons of milk (we used 2% milk at the party, but at home I use unsweetened almond milk)
4 cups cocoa powder (we have been liking extra dark)
4 cups dark brown sugar
8 tsp vanilla extract (2 TBS + 2 tsp is the conversion if you want to measure less)
TIP: We had a drink warmer that housed the hot chocolate to keep it toasty during the party. We had never used it before and it actually ended up scalding most of the hot chocolate. Just be aware of the container and make sure it doesn’t burn your beverage. At least it looked pretty!
My initial idea for this was not at all what we implemented. I had tons of ideas like frosting with crushed peppermint and sprinkles, but ultimately we went with what easy. I think my original ideas would have caused a huge mess and a lot of traffic around one area. If you want to make a fun rim, then I suggest prepping the cups ahead of time! Note that you need extra space to have them presented and ready to use - we didn’t have that. Luckily the classic options that everyone loves are in fact easy. Here is some inspiration for your topping selection:
mini marshmallows (can always go custom / gourmet / large if you want to make a statement)
candy cane spoons (plain candy canes or peppermint sticks would be cute too)
dark chocolate pretzels
muddy buddies / puppy chow
cinnamon / cayenne mixture for “Mexican hot chocolate”
whipped cream (chocolate or peppermint would be a fun addition to the mix too)
SPIKED SELECTION: Bailey’s Irish Cream (they also have peppermint) and Peppermint Schnapps
TIP: We had a really cute bar cart for our hot chocolate dispenser. We chose to put the toppings away from the bar cart so it would hopefully create less congestion around the hot cocoa and have a more even flow. The only “extras” we kept on the bar cart was the whipped cream and the alcohol.
Hot chocolate bars are fun in general - even a basic / no frills bar is classic; however, the fun is definitely in the details. My favorite part were the mug buddies that I made. See a video of me making them here. They retail for around $5+ so buying them wasn’t really an option for a party of 50+ people. No worries though, because they are super easy to make. I bought this cookie cutter set so I could use the gingerbread man and the Christmas tree; however, I love this heart shape which would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. This gingerbread recipe was what I used and it was scrumptious.
Another detail we included were custom coffee cups. We toyed with the pretty martini type glasses (with the fun rims!) or even actual mugs that would serve as party favors, but decided to go with disposable cups, well… for the ease of it. Hah! They are a classic look and have easy clean up. I bought this set of cups on Amazon along with this round printer paper for the stickers. You can buy pre-made custom stickers, but it is a lot cheaper (and faster) to make your own. I made mine on Canva then put them in a word document to print.
P.S. The theme for the shower was a bridal winter wonderland. It was all white with pops of greenery here and there and twinkle lights… an effortless theme, especially for a shower around / after Christmas! I feel like I’ve said “easy” several times within this post and while that isn’t the reason we did this theme, it was a driving factor behind a lot of our decisions. “Easy” doesn’t have to look cheap :)
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