This holiday season I decided to resurrect a little festive get-together I used to host every December right before the holidays just for friends. For the previous two Christmases, I didn't have the space to host a party... at all.
I try to keep these get-togethers small. A couple of girlfriends and their families.
This was my first time doing a hot cocoa bar for a party. I had seen a few different ideas for doing hot chocolate bars (some adult, some kid friendly) floating around on Pinterest. There would be 5 children attending the party, so I kept the toppings PG. But if you were hosting all an adult party, you could add fun alcoholic options to your bar- think whipped cream vodka, Irish cream liqueurs, coffee liqueurs, and so on. ;)
I made some super simple stirrers for the hot cocoa. I broke the hooks off the candy canes (well, actually most of them were already broke at the hook :p). I then heated a 1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons of shortening in a small saucepan over medium heat until smooth. I rolled the end of each of the candy canes in the melted chocolate & let them set up on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for about 2 minutes. Then I sprinkled them with some fun holiday sprinkles. Let them harden completely before arranging them in a small mason jar.
Don't toss those candy cane hooks! Put them in a food storage bag and crush them with a meat pounder or rolling pin. You can pour the crushed candy canes into another small mason jar so your guests can add them to their mug of cocoa for a quick peppermint hot chocolate.
I put together these cute pine and cranberry arrangements in just a few minutes. We had pine boughs left that we had cut off from the bottom of our Christmas tree. I snipped off some clippings from a few of these. I then filled leftover pasta jars that I had cleaned & removed the labels from about 2/3 of the way with water. I dropped in a couple of handfuls of fresh cranberries into each jar, arranged the pine snippings, and then tied a large festive bow around the top of each of the jars. They made beautiful decorations on the table for the party, and also served as party "favors" for my girlfriends to each take home. Fabulous, right? ;)
My guests had 5 yummy options to choose from at the hot cocoa bar- the chocolate covered candy cane stirrers I made earlier, plain mini marshmallows, peppermint mini marshmallows, crushed Oreo's (cookies 'n cream), crushed peppermint, and there was whipped topping as well.
I actually made the hot chocolate in the Crock Pot. I whisked it all together 2 hours before the party, cranked the Crock Pot to High, and came back every half hour to whisk the mixture and keep the chocolate smooth. It turned out perfectly. I failed to take any photos at all of the hot chocolate itself (Boo me!). But here is my recipe for you all. Feel free to taste as you go and add more milk or chocolate if you so deem it necessary. ;)
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
7 cups of water
2 cups of milk
(3) 3.15 oz Nestle Abuelita Tablets, each cut into fourths (You can find these in the Latin/Mexican aisles of most grocery stores. It also gives your hot cocoa a slight cinnamon taste.)
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Just dump it all in the Crock Pot, whisk it together, and turn the Crock Pot onto High. Whisk everything every 30 minutes or so as the chocolate tablets melt. After an hour and half, taste the hot chocolate and add milk or more chocolate to taste. After 2 hours, turn the Crock Pot to Low or Warm or your hot cocoa will start to burn along the sides. I let guests serve themselves from the Crock Pot using a ladle. :)
To make your holiday Hot Cocoa Bar Party even more fuss free, ask your guests to each bring a festive goodie. I made my Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake. One of my friends brought a tray of all homemade cookies, and my other girlfriend brought truffles. Needless to say, there wasn't a shortage of chocolate at my party. ;)
Are you hosting a holiday get-together for friends this holiday season? What are your tips for keeping the party fuss free and fun for everyone (including the hostess!)?