Hot Cocoa Bar: How to Make an Easy Hot Chocolate Buffet is from Alison of Alison’s Wonderland Recipes.
I’ll admit that I’m 100% guilty of drooling covetously over all the creative food and drink buffets on Pinterest. My favorites are the hot chocolate buffets. SO PRETTY! I’ve always been kind of intimidated by them though.
So I decided to find an easy way to make my own hot chocolate buffet: one with all the beauty and half the stress.
As it turns out, it’s really easy to make a balanced, beautiful hot cocoa bar! Who knew?
The best part? The setup can be as involved or as simple as you want. It’s up to you! You can tweak these hot cocoa bar ideas to be perfect for your needs, since one you set up for your family will definitely be different than one you set up for a whole party full of people.
Guide to creating an easy and elegant hot chocolate buffet
Hot Chocolate Varieties on Your Hot Cocoa Bar
I recommend having two types: hot chocolate and white hot chocolate. Stick with basic flavors, so the hot chocolate can be a canvas for as many flavor combos as possible.
I made my own using a dark hot chocolate recipe from my blog (minus the Baileys), plus an easy white hot chocolate recipe from Gimme Some Oven. I stirred them up, put them in crock pots set to “warm,” and that was it. All done in under 25 minutes! (Nutella Hot Chocolate is another tasty option! And so is Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate or Cinnamon Caramel Hot Chocolate.)
Add Unique Stirrers to the Hot Chocolate Bar
These add flavor while also avoiding the need to wash a million spoons later. Try to choose stirrers that will go with lots of different flavor combinations, since you don’t want guests to feel limited by the stirrer they choose.
I used three stirrers in my hot chocolate buffet: peppermint sticks, wafer roll cookies, and cinnamon sticks. One great advantage to making a post-Christmas winter buffet is that a lot of candy and cookies will be on sale!
Special Add-ins on the Hot Cocoa Bar
Add-ins are what make each cup unique, so this is where you’ll want to provide the most options. Luckily, you probably already have a lot of them at home!
Extracts like vanilla, almond, mint, and coconut all make awesome add-ins. In the spice department, you can go with something like pumpkin pie spice, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, or even sea salt. Having some alcohol shots on hand is a fun way to change things up too (I used caramel Baileys and Frangelico).
Simple, dissoluble candies like Red Hots, chocolate chips, and caramels work too. I even had some maraschino cherries on hand. You can pair them with cherry liqueur to make a very cherry cup of hot chocolate!
Hot Chocolate Bar Topping Ideas
Have at least six so guests can mix and match. Make sure to plan on each guest using at least two toppings per cup. You also want to provide a good balance of classic favorites and novelty toppings.
I used marshmallow snowmen, cocoa powder, whipped cream, and four different kinds of sprinkles. Sugary cereals can also be fun toppings!
When using whipped cream, I highly recommend making it fresh. It’s sooo much better in hot chocolate, and when it melts you get a wonderful creamy foam.
What’s a Hot Cocoa Bar without Dunkers?
Hot chocolate was made for dunking! I served biscotti, mini doughnuts, and torino cookies, but you can also use madeleines, graham crackers, gingerbread, or even churros!
Hot Chocolate Bar Display Ideas
Of course, presentation is part of what makes these buffets so special. I recommend taking stock of the different dishes you’ve got and working from there.
I have a lot of black and white dishes, so I decided to go with a black, white, and powder blue theme. Having a theme and/or color scheme can help tie all the items together, making them one cohesive whole rather than a bunch of hodgepodge of pieces.
I used a blue tablecloth and old lace runner I had on hand, and the dishes are all things I had in my kitchen or repurposed as a serving dish. I promise the giant vase in the middle of the table isn’t always filled with marshmallows, though that might not be such a bad idea!
Don’t let the presentation part overwhelm you though. This is such a fun idea and you shouldn’t skip out on it just because you don’t want to make a fancy display. Time with family and friends is the best part.
You’re all set to make your very own hot chocolate buffet! What do you plan to include in yours?
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