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Hot chocolate for outdoor events - any experience?


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Hi all, wondering if anyone has experience with keeping hot chocolate hot for several hours?  I've been vending at a couple of outdoor markets this summer and since it has been quite warm chocolate sales have been slow.  I'm looking forward to cooler weather and also debating whether I want to add hot chocolate to my offerings.  There are a few year-round outdoor markets, and I know of one person who does hot cider and a hot ginger drink but no hot chocolate drinks.  I would either have to heat the batch at the kitchen and keep it hot for 8 hours, or sort through additional regulations and permits in order to heat it up onsite.  I would rather not have to buy too much extra equipment beyond beverage dispensers and cups, but would consider a gas stove if that was a better way to keep things hot.  Winter in Seattle can be soggy and cold, and I think a couple varieties of hot chocolate could be popular.  I don't have a generator and electricity probably isn't available.

 

I appreciate any experience or advice you may have!

 

Thanks,

Andrea

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Air pots like you see in most coffee shops will keep hot coffee and hot chocolate at servable temps for several hours. What kind of volume are you looking at? Most of them hold about a liter and a half and can be bought through just about any restaurant supply company. For very large batches you might look at Cambro drink dispensers. They also hold hot beverages pretty well.

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No experience, but another thought: A Blendtec or Vita-Mix can take a pre-mixed solution from cold to serving temperature in about three minutes. Would that require an additional permit?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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LizD, I'm not sure about volume. Somewhere between 2-5 gallons?

Alex, I won't have electricity, so I don't think that will work. Are you talking about the heat created by friction alone? Unfortunately a vita prep is not in the budget at this time, though it would make for unique presentation.

I think if I want to use propane burners all I need is approval from the fire department, and approval from the health department either way for hot holding. So the question is how airpots/Cambros heated in advance compare to heating on a propane burner either in a pot of Bain Marie in both price and effectiveness. Warming small batches on site might be better for the product, but also more distraction. I'm not sure if the extra heat would be nice on a cold day, or if having a burner in my booth would be too dangerous for the other chocolate items. I've been fighting heat all summer!

Anyway thanks for your input, if I'm going to do this I want to do it right from the start :)

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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I agree with Drewman. 8 hours is a lot to ask of most non-heated containers that are going to deal with the volume you're talking about. If I had to go 8 hours with no way to restock at the mid-point, I'd probably look into the permit for the burners. Keep half in a hot storage container and when it starts dwindling, heat the other half, which is being stored in a cold storage container (ie: cooler with ice) in a pot on the burner and dump it into the hot storage container. Extra work but no electricity needed and better quality than the product sitting in a pot on a burner for 8 hours.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Thanks, Drewman and Tri2Cook, you're probably right that 8+ hours is too long to expect insulation alone to keep things hot.  The market in question runs from 10am-5pm, and with travel and set-up time, I'd be heating and leaving the kitchen around 8-8:30 am.  I would be OK with making a small amount and selling out before the end of the day.

 

I will check with the actual requirements for open flame, a couple of those portable butane burners would be easy enough as long as there isn't an expensive permit required.  Since I wouldn't be using eggs or meat in the hot chocolate, the health dept shouldn't have too much issue, as long as hot stays hot and cold stays cold, I am already permitted as a caterer in a low risk category.  Being able to grab things from the fridge and heat on site would save me a little time in the morning too.

 

I'm heading to a different market run by the same people today, so I'll see what they think of the hot chocolate plan. 

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Alex, I won't have electricity, so I don't think that will work. Are you talking about the heat created by friction alone?

 

Yes.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Can you keep water hot, and some ganache cool? Someplace here on eG there's a thread from 2009 or so about someone opening a candy shop and developing a hot chocolate that was made on demand. It was a ganache that would be placed in a cup then hot water stirred in. I used the recipe for a while at a place I worked at where we sold hot chocolate, but only a few cups a day, and it was very popular. (and easy for us because we could make the ganache every 3-4 days and keep it in measured squares in the front reach-in)

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Can you keep water hot, and some ganache cool? Someplace here on eG there's a thread from 2009 or so about someone opening a candy shop and developing a hot chocolate that was made on demand. It was a ganache that would be placed in a cup then hot water stirred in. I used the recipe for a while at a place I worked at where we sold hot chocolate, but only a few cups a day, and it was very popular. (and easy for us because we could make the ganache every 3-4 days and keep it in measured squares in the front reach-in)

Is this the one?

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/130527-serving-hot-chocolate-at-cafehelp/?p=1715150

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Good ideas here, especially the ganache cubes for individual servings.  I used to make a simple ganache to be used for staff mochas at my last restaurant, we'd keep a quart in the fridge.  And I didn't know about samovars, very interesting, that would look great.

 

But I spoke with the market director, and while she liked the idea, it sounded like hot food would require an extra $300 vendor permit plus the fire permit plus equipment, and the prediction is for a relatively warm dry winter.  I think I will back burner this idea for a few months and try the year-round market with my current set-up before I sink another $500 into anything. 

 

Thanks anyway!

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These are the products I've used at several hotels for hot chocolate.

 

http://www.cambro.com/Insulated_Beverage_Servers/

 

They work great, but 8 hours is a really long time. Maybe someone could bring a second batch half way through?

 

Good luck!

Yep, those were the kind of things I was thinking of, but yet, 8 hours is a very long time.  It would still be warm, but not really hot enough for drinking.

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  • 2 months later...

I didn't see this thread earlier.

 

You can get one of these  $22.00  and  one of the ethanol gel fuels  (Party City sells 12 cans for 15.00)  

 

Some people I know have three and serve hot chocolate, hot Mexican chocolate (with cinnamon) and a coconut beverage at a local swap meet. 

 

I have an old "space-age" design, globe-shaped hot beverage server that I used for decades for hot chocolate, hot cider, hot tea or spiced tea (long before chai appeared) and used Sterno.

I have it on ebay now as I no longer need it.  I used the liquid Sterno because the solid, gel type was not available back then.  

This only holds a gallon and is enameled steel  so would be completely inadequate for your needs.  It

has held up well since the late '60s when I bought it because it matched my Descoware

enameled cast iron cookware.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 5.25.30 PM.png

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hello guys,

 

This thread just gave me an idea... I'm vending on a outdoor event and I just thought about offering sticker bonbons dipped in hot chocolate.

A friend of mine lends me this chocolate melter

Do you guys think it is appropriate for keeping the chocolate warm, for like 6 hours? I have an electric plug set up and everything.

 

Cheers.

 

Yes, that will keep it warm all day.  Do you need to keep it in temper or just warm and melted?  Temper is possible, but would take more attention.

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http://www.carpigiani.com/usa/index.html?pg=103&prdct=48&prdid=229&langid=7&lngid=7&stid=11&siteid=11

 

These are potentially an option for anyone who would have access to the power requirements.

I believe she said there was no power available.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I believe she said there was no power available.

I believe she did too. But that doesn't mean that someone else looking for a solution to "Hot Chocolate for Outdoor Events", that would have access to power couldn't benefit. Further, if one were to have access to a car battery, at said outdoor event (which seems quite likely), and say a power inverter, they would most certainly be able to access power.

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Yes, that will keep it warm all day.  Do you need to keep it in temper or just warm and melted?  Temper is possible, but would take more attention.

It's just to keep it warm, no need to temper. Great, thanks can't wait to try the chocolate melter 

Edited by docesobremesa (log)
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I wanted to report back on today's test.  I got a 3 liter Bunn airpot  - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BQEHM4?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01 - and made a batch of hot chocolate.  At 8:30 this morning I put it in the pre-heated pot at about 200F.  At 4pm when I got home, what was left was at 155F.  So still hot, but if it was really cold outside I might want to keep them insulated a little more, but I was happy overall.  Now I have to convince myself I want to be outside in the cold this winter.  Brrr, only if sales are hot enough to keep me warm :)

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Extra insulation wouldn't hurt, you might look at some of the insulated neoprene wine carriers -the kind that are made to hold 2 bottles sometimes have a seam down the middle that could be ripped out to make one wider bag. Anyway, REI and other outdoorsy stores carry a variety of insulators which might work. If you are going to have multiple airpots, you might be able to fashion a box which has a height of about ¾ of the height of the pot. (the top edge of the box is right about where the steel and plastic meet. The box could then be lined with styrofoam and other insulating materials, with the added benefit of the box itself cutting down on wind.

 

Yes, it's cold, but the holiday gift purchasing season is also soon to be upon us.

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