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Serving Hot Chocolate at Cafe....Help?!


chocoera
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as most of you know, i'm diving into the unknown of creating a retail dessert cafe and chocolate shop (yes i have photos of the construction...promise they are coming soon!)

anyway, when i was in europe, i feel in love with hot chocolate (not hot cocoa!) and have made many types for families and friends, and i would love to offer this to customers. problem is, not sure how to serve (or store) it?. my first thoughts went to our darling brian at tomric, and their hot chocolate machine/agitator....but that would be a hefty investment (a tad under $800...then shipping) for something that i'm not sure is necessary?

i, like most start ups, are working with a shoestring budget, and are spending it on construction, more warming pots, kitchen equip etc. so...question is.....do you have any suggestions for making the hot chocolate?

i thought that maybe since i'm serving some coffee and espresso, what if i figured out my ratios from a normal recipe to single cup size, and would put chopped chocolate and cocoa in a cup, then steamed milk/cream like you would for a capp, and pour it into the chocolate and stir to melt? or if doing super dk chocolate, i use just chocolate, cocoa and water? would that work? but i have a favorite recipe that caramelizes sugar that you add to your liquid for a different taste of hot chocolate...how would i do that on a cup by cup basis? (unless i just don't offer that flavor?)

uggg...can you see my frustration? :wacko:

how do you suppose our friends at burdicks chocolate cafe, or bittersweet chocolate cafe, or ethels do it? i know its not that hard to make hot cocoa on a cup by cup basis, but i'm looking for that super lovely sipping chocolate......

thoughts?

also, your own preference, what do you normally see that served in (oz size?) i've seen demitasse size like in a double shot espresso cup (3 oz or so) and also 12 and 16 oz "cup o' chocolate" size....what do you think i should serve? i know most people can't finish a 12 or 16 oz (trust me, i have tried) but isn't it more exciting to receive a huge cup of chocolate? (me? not so much...but trying to appeal to "americans") *ha ha ha*

on that note, i'm trying to keep dishware minimal, i already have those sizes mentioned for my coffee drinks, but i could get my hands on an 8 oz cup if needed....but trying to keep shoestring budget on a shoestring :raz:

thanks you guys! appreciate any suggestions on ounces, or if i should purchase a hot chocolate agitator, (then i'd do like a different recipe every day?! so customers could try different ones) or other ideas on how to make it cup by cup.....thanks!

xoxoxo

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From the consumer's perspective, a huge cup of super-rich drinking chocolate isn't appealing. It's usually so rich that it must be sipped slowly, and it will quickly cool/congeal if you drink it too slowly. I can't imagine getting through a 12 or 16 oz cup! Better to offer a smaller size, more modestly priced; then the customer can buy other things, too.

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The Europeans have special pots for their drinking chocolate. If you think you can move a decent amount of chocholate per hour, I see no reason why you wouldn't prepare a pot at a time and keep it warm. One thing to consider is that the European style chocolate made with water is much denser and richer than an American style chocolate made with milk. If you look at Mariebelle's menu (found here http://www.mariebelle.com/s.nl/it.I/id.3/.f) you will see that they do both chocolate with milk and with water, but they don't even offer the chocolates done with milk in the small size (which is a double espresso-sized cup, I think). With the water-based chocolate, you only need a very small amount as it is so incredibly rich. With the milk-based chocolate you can go a little bigger on the cup size. You should look at some of the top chocolatiers and see what they are doing. I'd start with Mariebelle, Maison du Chocolat and Pierre Marcolini. You may be able to find how they do it online, otherwise you could probably just call up and ask if they make each cup to order or if they do a pot at a time or whatever.

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I second HungryC's comment about the cup size. The sipping chocolate you are describing sounds delicious, but there is no way I would ever buy a 12-16 oz cup of it. I couldn't finish it, and the calories I would consume trying would just be too much. If I ever happened by your store, I would LOVE to sip on a smaller cup of it, though.

Those are my two cents. Sorry I can't help with your more pressing problems. I hope your shop is successful - good luck to you!

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Hi Lisa,

On the sizes, I say offer the sipping-chocolate in the smaller demi-tasse size, but be aware that you may need to educate your customers a bit on this product, unless maybe you are in a place like NYC with a more generally sophisticated clientle.

I'm no help in how you would hold the product, but I like Lior's idea of a molded product on a stick that can be stirred in to a given quantity of hot milk. That would be a great product for retail sales.

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Friends and I took chocolate classes with a chocolatier who owned one of those wonderful chocolate shot machines. Here's a photo with the cups we drank from. We topped the chocolate with foamed skim milk and then I snitched some of the Boiron raspberry puree from her freezer and topped it with a fresh raspberry. Yummmm :wub:Magic chocolate shot machine.jpg

Darienne

 

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Cheers & Chocolates

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What if you made a soft ganache that would melt quickly with the cappucino wand?

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I've had great success making them to order but only offering them for people who want to sit and enjoy them. They're absolutely too dense to put into paper cups for to-go options, IMO. You can control your cost better if you use a powdered cocoa and add necessary ingredients to thicken. I think you might kill someone if you offered a 16 oz size! It'd be more special if it were smaller. Good luck!

"He was a bold man that first eat an oyster." -Jonathan Swift

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i will check on the other chocolatiers mentioned and see what they're offering....and no, i'm not in NYC at all....actually a small town, algona ia :0) i am the only thing like "us" around, so every product will be some kind of education for them! i have done events and online here before moving, and was very very well received, the whole town can't wait for us to open (yikes!)

as for the chocolate stick and stir idea, i love it, and might do something like that as gift options or something that would be great in a basket idea, but for the sit-down customer (what i'm aiming this drink for) i would like to provide table service, like a cup of hot chocolate, and a shot of water to wash it down with.

the idea of a soft ganache...i could make a caramel ganache for that drink i was telling you about earlier...that would work....and how soft is soft? 1 to 1 will kinda set up after a day, but would i dare do 2 to 1 (liquid to chocolate) and keep it in the fridge? or at room temp?

keep the ideas coming :0) they are so appreciated, and every single one is something i hadn't even thought of! (weird how we can be so one-track sometimes!)

and for that pic of the chocolate machine, that is a lot like what tomric's offers....didn't know if that was worth the investment? if i go with the small cup as most have suggested, that is probably too small to do chopped chocolate and hot water or milk in right? so i might have to buy the machine?

as for the one pot a day scenario, just worried that hot chocolate would separate if made in the morning, and was not continually agitated? or do you think it would work to make in the morning, cover, set in fridge, and then reheat each individual cup? or would that be weird....hmmm...?

thanks you guys!!! :wub:

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I really think you need to simplify. If for no other reason than imagining a line of ten people out your door ordering the same thing - what's the most efficient, cost effective and tasty beverage you can serve? You need to rely on your good old espresso machine and steam wand - you mentioned you're serving espresso, I'm assuming you have a manual machine? Or at least one with a reliable steam wand? I think that using shaved chocolate will be your downfall, if for no other reason, it just won't incorporate well, especially if combined with cocoa powder. Keep it simple!!

"He was a bold man that first eat an oyster." -Jonathan Swift

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I can't find my copy, but Fine Cooking did a ganache specifically for hot chocolate. Just cream and chocolate, I think. No cocoa powder (there may have been butter, but I'm not sure).

They probably have the recipe on their website, but you may have to become a member (you could probably claim it as a business expense).

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Just remembered that there is a cafe here that serves hot chocolate like this: small cup like for tea or a small capp filled with steamed milk. Next to that is another cup-I will go buy a hot chocoalte to see what cup as I can't recall, I think clear glass-filled half way with faves/callets which were obviously callebaut. You could order it in white, milk or dark or any combo. Then the customer does whatever she wants and makes her own as much or as little choc as she chooses. It looked nice. I will go and get pictures.

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Wow. That $99.00 chocolate machine from BialettiShop might be an answer.

And I loved the chocolate sticks that Kerry posted.

I'll email the Ontario owner of the chocolate machine and ask her the actual capacity of the cups she uses and also how worth the money she finds her large machine. (She is Kerry's protege and a delight!)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Wow. That $99.00 chocolate machine from BialettiShop might be an answer.

And I loved the chocolate sticks that Kerry posted.

I'll email the Ontario owner of the chocolate machine and ask her the actual capacity of the cups she uses and also how worth the money she finds her large machine. (She is Kerry's protege and a delight!)

Given Mari's use of the machine - I don't imagine that it has paid for itself in financial terms, but she loves the chocolate shots. Her cups are little expresso cups - so maybe an ounce and a half or so.

The machine is very costly - I've seen a used one for about $300.

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Given Mari's use of the machine - I don't imagine that it has paid for itself in financial terms, but she loves the chocolate shots. Her cups are little expresso cups - so maybe an ounce and a half or so.

The machine is very costly - I've seen a used one for about $300.

I'm pretty sure she said hers cost about $800...or maybe that's just the one at Tomric. I guess I won't write to her after you supplied the information. Thanks.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I'd love the Bialetti for home use, but I doubt you'd be able to pass inspection with it (when my parents had a restaurant, every appliance had to be rated for commercial kitchens). And it doesn't say how long it takes to make a cup of hot chocolate, or what the minimum amount is you can make. You don't want to keep too much on tap at any time--fresh is best!

When I was in university (pre-super rich premium hot chocolate days), my favourite coffee shop just steamed chocolate milk with the milk steamer wand thing on their espresso/capuccino maker. Like rather be travelin' said, you may as will stick with what you already have, assuming you're going to have the machine from the outset (though quite honestly, unless you have a good barista, I'd not bother with it).

My favourite low-brow hot chocolate place in Japan just heats milk up on the stove, adds the chocolate, and whips it up with a whisk. Fast and simple.

I still think the ganache route is easiest way to get a good quality product. The ganache would easily melt in heated milk. But what about some kind of rich chocolate syrup? It might keep longer, and you wouldn't have to worry about the time it would take for it to melt into the milk.

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thanks for a picture of the stick idea kerry, like lior said, that would serve double duty in the cafe and be a great gift....and maybe that would be a neat presentation having them do it themselves....as for the espresso machine, i used to work in a coffee shop, so i'm friends with my machine :) its a manual (no fancy computer espresso machine for me!) and i know how to manipulate my steam wand pretty well...as for the hot choc machine, you're right....residential would probably not be ok with erik g, (my health inspect) and i being small-time, i just can't justify $800 for a machine if i can do something else to replace (whereas obviously an espresso needs an espresso machine, and you can produce many drinks from one machine) :)

and yes, i do also agree...streamlined is best.....if we can figure out a way to use what i have but keep machine and method similar, it should would go a heck of a lot smoother...hmmm

so, the top runners are right now the soft ganache idea steamed together with milk (or water) (vs chocolate shavings) *side note, to make a more euro-chocolate, i could probably steam water with a bit of cocoa and then the ganache right?*

and also the chocolate stick idea....i loved kerry's pic with the frothy milk next to it, so people could still get a creamy and airy cup of chocolate, but stop stirring when its at their own "chocolate level" the only downside is how would i give them whipped cream with it if they wanted it? ;) and i probably couldn't do my fav: a caramelized hot chocolate

xoxoxoxo

words can't express my gratitude for friends like you :)

pics of the construction to come tonight or tomorrow....i'm painting today....again.... :raz:

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