Host a Hot Chocolate Bar Party + The Most Luxurious Hot Chocolate
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — Hot Chocolate season! Let’s talk about how to throw a hot chocolate bar party with everything that you need and a recipe for the most luxurious hot chocolate that requires you to just toss everything into the slow cooker! Spread that holiday cheer!
[Insert happy dance]
Today, I’m also showing you how to put together a hot chocolate bar party and sharing a recipe for the most luxurious hot chocolate recipe that you barely have to lift a finger for! So really, it’s like the best day ever!
The best thing about a hot chocolate bar is, that you can customize your cocoa with treats, flavors, and sprinkles! So it’s entirely up to you what you put in your hot chocolate. Persoanlly, I love melting a good ol’ candy cane in mine. Sometimes, I’ll even add in a shot of espresso! Nothing beats a classic hot peppermint mocha.
This coming year, I wanted to start sharing some crafty sort of ideas with you guys and couldn’t think of a better way to start than with a DIY hot chocolate bar. I’m not saying this is becoming a regular thing or anything but you know, once in a while when inspiration strikes, why not? And hot chocolate bars are all the rage right now, you see them at weddings, holiday parties, work parties, birthdays, cookie decorating parties, so on and so forth.
The idea of a hot chocolate bar:
The inspiration for a hot cocoa bar idea struck when I started helping one of my dear friends plan her son’s first birthday party. I’m still in shocked the little guy is about to turn one. The first day of this year is when we hosted her baby shower. Oh, how time flies! She’s going with a Lumberjack-themed party. How cute is that? And that’s when it all started coming together.
I love the idea of winter parties with a theme, so today I’m sharing my rustic log cabin themed hot chocolate bar. Let’s start with everything you need for the table and then I’ll share with you that heavenly hot chocolate recipe. It’s made with REAL melted chocolate and you just won’t believe how easy it is!
How to set up a hot chocolate bar:
To kick things off, let’s talk about paper goods. These days you can buy adorable paper coffee cups like Starbucks right on Amazon! They come complete with sleeves and lids. Of course, you can also use nice mugs if you’re hosting a party for just a few people. Maybe even customize the mugs if you’re fancy like that? That would make for a nice Christmas present or if this is for a wedding, they could be wedding favors! You can also purchase customized paper coffee cups if you want a message on them. The interweb is such a wonderful place!
To stir the hot chocolate, I set out wood spoons. These ended up being a little shorter than I anticipated but I doubt anyone would drink a 12-ounce cup full of hot chocolate so I think they’ll be just fine! Another great alternative would be these coffee stir sticks.
For the hot chocolate bar toppings, I used mason jars in different sizes. I like to use a variety of sizes to really add some height and interest to the whole thing. Use a few tall ones for jumbo marshmallows, a few short ones for toppings like toffee bits, and mini ones for coarse sea salt. And how are your guests gonna get those toppings out? These scoops, so tiny, so flippin’ cute! To make the jars look a little more festive yet still be with that rustic theme, wrap red bakers twine around the jars a few times. The labels were a breeze, I printed them on cardstock right on my home printer. I’ll add a link for these below with other printables for the hot chocolate bar.
What toppings to add to your customizable hot chocolate bar:
- marshmallows or mini marshmallows!
- toffee bits
- coarse sea salt
- mini chocolate chips
- crushed peppermints or candy canes or soft peppermint sticks
- cinnamon sticks
- milk chocolate truffles
- Pirouette cookies
- White chocolate shavings
- whipped cream
- dark chocolate syrup
- caramel sauce
And every hot cocoa bar needs a good sign.
I bought this faux wood frame for $6 at Walmart and printed the sign at home. Here’s a link to this sign. You’ll need to sign up for their mailing list though. Once you do that, you’ll get an email with a password to download the printable. But it is completely free. You can also make your own sign on chalkboard paper that you can print and here are directions on how to do that along with fonts that would look good. I used blank jar labels to make the signs for the toppings. Photoshop works great to type the names of your toppings. You can also print blank labels and write the toppings in with a white pen or chalkboard marker. Also cute, print labels with the names of your guests on there! Use that same baker’s twine to tie it around the sleeves of the paper cups!
As far as decorations, you can use just about anything you like!
Sticking with the rustic, log cabin theme, I used a large galvanized metal tray that I picked up from Hobby Lobby during their 50% off sale for $7 to place all my hot chocolate bar toppings in. It’s possibly one of the best props I’ve ever bought. The paper goods basket is also from there. A large bag of these winter-scented pinecones from Michaels, just scattered around. $2.50 for a huge bag is a steal! The brown paper is a large roll I picked up from Home Depot from the paint section, in the ballpark of $3.50. A string of white lights around faux evergreens adds a little more color and brings the outdoors in. The faux pine branches are from Hobby Lobby as well, they were 50% off and I paid about $2.50-4 per branch depending on the style. Light a few pine-scented candles, put the fireplace on, and little holiday music. If it’s snowing where you live, I’m totally jelly. Draw back the curtains and let that powdery goodness show through.
How to make hot chocolate – you don’t need a hot cocoa mix!
You already know I’m a YUGE fan of slow cooker recipes for hot chocolate. I shared a peppermint version and Mexican hot chocolate with you guys in the past. Today I wanted to bring you the ultimate recipe for homemade hot chocolate in the slow cooker. It’s simple, straightforward, and uses real chocolate.
We start by whisking together a little cocoa powder and hot water in a bowl. When the cocoa mixes in, add it to a slow cooker along with chopped chocolate, milk, heavy cream, a can of evaporated milk, sugar, and a hint of salt. That’s it! Let it go low and slow for 6 hours or on the high setting for 4 hours. As always, you want to whisk the hot chocolate every now and then to make sure the chocolate isn’t stuck to the bottom.
You can also make this on the stove if you don’t have a slow cooker. Just whisk the water and cocoa powder together over medium heat until it begins to simmer, add in the remaining ingredients, and whisk until the chocolate melts. Make sure the hot chocolate doesn’t boil. You want it to just barely reach the simmer point. It’ll take you in the ballpark of 15 minutes altogether.
A couple of things I want to bring to your attention. Use chopped chocolate and not chocolate chips. I’ve used chocolate chips in the past and it’s a hit or a miss. Sometimes it melts, other times it’s a pain. For best results, I really suggest chopping up chocolate bars. The second important thing, don’t skip the evaporated milk! I made this hot chocolate recipe for a few friends when I was still testing it and it got rave reviews! The evaporated milk is wonderful with the melted chocolate. Seriously, it’s magic. Lastly, sugar is optional. I actually wouldn’t add it in if you’re serving it with a hot chocolate bar. The toppings are super sweet as it is so it really isn’t necessary. If you’re serving this without toppings you may want the sugar.
Promise me you’ll have more hot chocolate bar parties this holiday season.
Pro tip: a cup of hot chocolate + 1 single Lindt milk chocolate truffle. Stir until it melts. Thank me later!
How to Host a Hot Chocolate Bar Party + The Most Luxurious Hot Chocolate
It's the most wonderful time of the year -- Hot Chocolate season! Let's talk about how to throw a hot chocolate bar party with everything that you need and a recipe for the most luxurious hot chocolate that requires you to just toss everything into the slow cooker! Spread that holiday cheer!
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup hot water
- 20 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- 10 cups whole milk (or 2% - see notes)
- 2 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 (12 ounces) can evaporated milk (not fat-free)
- ½ cup sugar (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- marshmallows, toffee bits, coarse sea salt, mini chocolate chips, crushed peppermints, candy canes, soft peppermint sticks, whoppers, Lindt truffles, pirouette cookies, whipped cream, dark chocolate syrup, caramel sauce + whatever else you fancy
- Start by adding the cocoa powder to a bowl, pour in the hot water, and whisk until mixed.
- Add the cocoa mixture along with the chopped chocolate, milk, heavy cream, evaporated milk, and salt to a 6-quart slow cooker or larger. If you're serving this with a hot chocolate bar and toppings, consider leaving out the sugar to avoid the hot chocolate being too sweet. If you're serving the hot chocolate solo, add in the sugar.
- Cook the hot chocolate on the high setting for 3-4 hours or on low for 6 hours. Low for 6 hours is what I prefer. Make sure to stir the hot chocolate every hour to keep the chocolate from settling to the bottom.
- Keep on the warm setting if you're serving it hot chocolate bar style with toppings on the side. Leftover hot chocolate can be refrigerated for up to one week and warmed in the microwave before serving.
- Once the hot chocolate cooks, you want to try and serve this within 1 hour. After making it several more times, I find that If you let it sit for too long, and your slow cooker runs hot, you run the risk of it curdling the cream or the HC sticking to the bottom.
- You can also make this on the stove if you don’t have a slow cooker. Just whisk the water and cocoa powder together over medium heat until it begins to simmer, add in the remaining ingredients, and whisk until the chocolate melts. Make sure the hot chocolate doesn’t boil. You want it to just barely reach the simmer point. It’ll take you in the ballpark of 15 minutes altogether. Then, you can pour it into a carafe. This one keeps drinks hot for 12 hours!
- Oh please don't make hot chocolate with anything less than 2% milk, it just won't give you that deliciousness. Also a no-no, fat-free evap milk.
- You can halve this recipe to serve 7-10 guests.
Has anyone used a coffee urn to serve this? I used a crockpot last year and loved it, but it was a little messy. This year I’m making it for a teenage Christmas party and am looking to keep things a little tidy. Thanks.
Hello, I followed your instructions and set this up for my family on Christmas. Everything worked out great and the hot chocolate was fantastic. There was a little more effort required since I wanted this to be a surprise on Christmas morning, I had to get up very early to make it and stir it every hour. Everyone loved the hot chocolate but thought it was a little too much effort for a morning. I thought it was perfect. Thank you for posting this!
I love this!!! Thank you so much. My grandchildren are just going to have fun with this…
Can this be made the day before, refrigerate, and heated in slow cooker day of?
Hi Amanda! Yes, you can make the hot chocolate the day before and refrigerate it. I would stir it really well and then heat it on the ‘warm setting’ to make sure the milk doesn’t scorch! Hope you enjoy it!
I’ve made this recipe as is and it’s AHhhmazing! I now have to make it vegan. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can do this?
I truly appreciate it.
Do you really use 20 oz of semi sweet chocolate bar? I am making a double recipe for a Chili Cookoff this weekend. There is Chili, Wings and Hot Chocolate competition. Just want to make sure.
Thank you for the excellent article.
It looks so delicious. I can’t wait to try the chocolate recipe.
Although I love hot chocolate, it now tastes bitter. What can I add to sweeten it, other than sugar? I don’t use sugar as I try to eat naturally.
Hello! I’m making my first hot cocoa bar for my daughters first birthday. I was wondering what exact sizes of mason jars you used?
Can you use more cocoa powder and less ounces of semi-sweet chocolate pieces? That would make it less expensive to make for a crowd of 50 people, which would be nice. Anyone try that? What ratio would you use?
I’m going to attempt hosting a hot chocolate bar using this recipe next week. I’m wondering if I can make it the day before and then heat it in and serve it from a large coffee (percolator) urn. Comments online are all over the board regarding putting milk in coffee urn and I’m wondering if anyone has tried it. Help please???
Hi Molly, how did the old hot chocolate from the coffee urn work out? Planning to do the same on the 24th
Hello, I just want to make sure, the cocoa powder in this recipe, is that unsweetened?
Hi Meredith! I recommend unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe!
You missed what my family thought was the best topping…a scoop of good vanilla (or even peppermint) ice cream. This was my Dad’s idea and it was the best. It melts with creamy sweetness. Often hot chocolate can be just too hot. This cools it off to perfection and add such richness. I haven’t seen it on any hot chocolate bar idea boards, but it is the best!