Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Surprising Tool to Keep Colored Cocoa Butter in Temper


Using an airbrush to apply colored cocoa butter to your chocolate moulds can help create a dramatic effect. But if you are using several colors at once, it may seem like a juggling act to keep them all in proper temper. 

RCI member, Brian Donaghy with Tomric Systems, Inc, says although colored cocoa butter usually arrives tempered, it is important to heat it slowly and then hold the cocoa butter in a 90℉ environment. Brian recommends using a yogurt maker to retain the temperature over time and help ensure the cocoa butter doesn't lose temper.



With lots of options available online, most ranging in price from $29-$60, this piece of equipment could prevent your airbrushed chocolates from having a dull finish or sticking to the moulds.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

3 Ways RCI's Annual Convention & Industry Expo Will Help You Rock Your Candy Business


Wanna ROCK your candy business or chocolate shop? Retail Confectioners International (RCI) is cranking up the volume for the 2018 Annual Convention & Industry Expo in Cleveland, Ohio on June 18 through 22. Keep reading for three ways attending RCI's Annual Convention & Industry Expo will help you ROCK your candy business.

Education That Rocks
Get ready to rock with an energetic, interactive and funny keynote designed for the retail confectioner. Discover how to reinvent and revolutionize your candy business using innovative success secrets that created household names like The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Tina Turner and Aerosmith. Using the same techniques as these bona fide rockstars, attendees will learn how to:
  • Create a grand vision
  • Channel uniqueness into huge growth
  • Use the three keys of awesome teamwork
  • Build an action-oriented culture
  • Drive and lead change
In addition to the keynote session “Opportunity Rocks,” attendees will learn how to outshine the competition through two days of education sessions led industry experts on the subjects of merchandising, product development and hiring. Attendees will also have the opportunity to apply key merchandising concepts during a hands-on workshop.

Game-Changing Insight

RCI takes education to the next level through exclusive behind-the-scenes tours. Gain a new perspective of your craft while touring the following rockstar local businesses, sure to inspire ideas to take home to your own retail shop.
  • B.A. Sweetie Candy Company
  • Gorant Chocolatier
  • Linnea’s Candy Supplies, Inc.
  • Malley’s Chocolates
  • Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates
  • Popped!
  • Sun America LLC
  • Tap Packaging Solutions

Rock Star Networking

Join RCI for a red-carpet after party you won’t forget! Dressed as your favorite rockstar, roll VIP-style with private access to all seven floors of exhibits at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Jam with an 80s tribute band, enjoy a hosted bar, capture memories in photos taken by the “paparazzi” and more!

Simply attending this event will expose you to relevant education, inspiring and insightful behind-the-scenes tours and network opportunities fit for rockstars. Don't miss this great opportunity to learn, connect and discover how we can help you build your sweet business!

Registration by April 20 and save $100 on the Convention Pass! Registration is open to RCI members and non-members with industry credentials. Visit retailconfectioners.org/annual or call 800-545-5381 for more details.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tip #261: How to Fix Burnt Caramel



We’ve all heard the saying “don’t cry over spilled milk,” the same could be said for burnt caramel. Mistakes in the kitchen happen and sometimes there’s nothing you can do but put the mistake behind you and move on. Before pitching the botched batch, here are a couple ideas for salvaging your burnt caramel.
Masahiro Makino / Getty Images
One option would be to try masking the bitterness of burnt caramel by incorporating instant coffee into the mix. There is something comforting about this flavor combination, plus with an extra jolt of caffeine, the only tears shed over this concoction will be tears of joy. Try this recipe for cozy coffee caramels from TheSpruce.com.

If you're feeling adventurous, embrace the burnt flavor and use it as a opportunity to get creative. According to FoodIngredientsFirst.com, burnt caramel is one of the hot new flavor trends for 2018, “A burnt caramel flavor pairs the sweet, milky notes of the caramel with the deep and slightly smoky characteristics of burning the caramel.”

With National Caramel Day on April 5, you might just have to burn a batch of caramel “on accident” to celebrate! Share in the comments below if you have other solutions for fixing burnt caramel.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tip #260: Help Build the Next Generation of Sweet Leaders


As an association, RCI is committed to supporting the next generation of confectionery leaders. In 2012 RCI developed the Next Generation group as a platform to encourage members in their twenties and thirties to build relationships and connect through fun, interactive events.

Being part of a multi-generational, family business, RCI Board President Steve Vande Walle, shares his first experience as the new kid on the block and why supporting young confectionery professionals is important to the industry as a whole.
"[RCI's Next Generation event was created to help the younger generation] develop relationships with members their age, many of whom will turn out to be life-long friends, creating a network of confectionery colleagues facing many of the same challenges who can turn to each other to solve problems and learn from, "says Vande Walle. 
"I wish they had something like this 30 years ago, when I first started attending conventions. I remember attending a networking reception in those days, and seeing all of the “older” members chatting and socializing like they were all best friends."
As a reminder for the more "seasoned" professionals, Vande Walle states, "as leaders of RCI, it is our responsibility to make sure professional growth and networking opportunities for our younger members continues to be available as a way to help our next generation flourish. I believe the next generation events are a step in that direction. Please encourage all young RCI members to attend Next Generation events and even consider becoming a member of our Next Generation Committee. Being a part of the inner workings of the association is very interesting and even more rewarding." 
Regardless of your age, you, too, can help foster the success of future industry leaders by mentoring younger staff or members of your community, encouraging them to participate in local organizations for young professionals, enrolling them in an education course or by sending them to a industry-related conference. 

Consider bringing a young member of your team to RCI's Annual Convention & Industry Expo in Cleveland, Ohio June 18-22, 2018. Aside from all the great education, networking and tours, these "next geners" will leave having made meaningful and lasting connections with colleagues their age that could have an impact on their professional careers for years to come. Visit retailconfectioners.org/annual to learn more and register to attend.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Throwback Tip #122: Update Your Ice Cream Display & Increase Sales



I scream! You scream! We all scream for summer!

With summer around the corner, this week's tip suggests taking a critical look at how you display ice cream in your retail store. 

As with candy merchandising, the way your ice cream is displayed can have a positive or adverse affect on sales. During a past conference in Houston, Texas, members visited La King’s Confectionery. The owner, Jack King, shared that when he revamped his ice cream display to reflect a European gelato shop, his ice cream sales increased significantly.


So, if you are still hand-dipping your ice cream out of traditional, round buckets, consider updating your display. By displaying ice cream in a more modern style and adding embellishments such as cookie crumbles or caramel swirls, your customers won’t be able to resist your delicious ice cream!

Take it a step further by offering a toppings bar nearby. Take products that you currently offer (i.e. chocolate-covered pretzels, caramel, nonpareils, etc.) and let customers create a new favorite ice cream treat!

Revamping your ice cream display is one way to help your ice cream sales heat up this summer!

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tip #259 Treats with a Twist: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo


Although Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico, the holiday has evolved in the United States to commemorate Mexican heritage and culture. To help celebrate the world's largest producer and exporter of limes, we're sharing fun treats with a twist of this zesty citrus fruit.

Party City

Candy Margaritas

Create a cheery display of mini margarita glasses filled with candies and rimmed with colored sugar and wedges of lime-flavored gummies. Consider packaging ingredients in bulk, along with a take-home guide for Cinco de Mayo party goers/hosts to easily grab and DIY these magnificent mocktails at home.

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company

Chocolate + Lime

Lime adds a fresh twist to the classic truffle, because the citrus helps cut through the richness of chocolate and the fresh cream used in ganache. Consider incorporating lime juice or oil into your truffle recipe or add lime zest to your chocolate bars. RCI member, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company adds a twist of key lime to their craft chocolate bars.
  

Chili + Lime

Lure in your more adventurous patrons with samples of chili and lime truffles. Click here to get the recipe from Hope and Greenwood.

Have fun celebrating Cinco de Mayo with these fun treats! Share your favorite lime concoctions in the comments below.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tip #258: Give Yourself A Break

  • About 31% of entrepreneurs work at least 10 hours a day and 15% work every day of the week, according to a survey by Discover Small Business Watch (Entrepreneur.com). 
  • It’s been found that entrepreneurs work 63% more hours than the average worker (Inc.com).
If you are an entrepreneur, these statistics probably don’t surprise you. What may surprise you is that taking breaks is actually good for you and your business. Whether that means taking short breaks throughout the work day or taking more trips to the beach, numerous scientific studies back the benefits of giving your brain a break. With Christmas and Valentine's Day behind us and Easter on the horizon, many candy professionals may feel obligated to push through the long hours needed to get the job done. Keep in mind, however, if you don’t give your body enough rest, your performance will eventually suffer, making all that extra time and energy counterproductive.

In an article published by Inc.com, Minda Zetlin offers the following tips on how to incorporate breaks into your regular routine (click here to read full article).

Take short breaks often
The Pomodoro Technique suggests working 25 consecutive minutes alternating with short five-minute breaks in between. The use of this technique has resulted in both increased performance and productivity.

Take more frequent vacations

The average American has 10 days of allotted vacation time each year, however, studies show that many Americans end each year with unused vacation days.

Take one day off every week

If you’re pulling more hours than most, this may seem counterintuitive and even frightening. After practicing this approach, participants of an experiment who were accustomed to working every day reported not only a better work-life balance, but also felt more productive and more pleased with their accomplishments.

As we approach the time of the year, widely recognized as “spring break” in the United States and Canada, now is a good time to start thinking about how you can give yourself a much needed break. Comment below what you do to create a better work-life balance.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Throwback Tip #12: Celebrate American Chocolate Week

Our favorite time of year is just around the corner -- American Chocolate Week! Five whole days of chocolatey celebration, Monday, March 19 through Friday, March 23! Here’s a few of our favorite ways to celebrate with consumers!
  • Create a new chocolate-themed secret password each day that customers can only find via your social media; if they use the secret password while visiting your store, they could get a prize plus a coupon towards a future purchase. (Tip: The coupon encourages them to come back again.)
  • Encourage your customers to share the joy of American Chocolate Week with someone else by having a “Buy One, Get One” deal. For example, “Buy One, Get One Free” or “Buy One, Get One Half Off.”
  • See it as an opportunity to educate your customers and have a fun chocolate trivia question each day in store or on your social media pages. Anyone who posts the correct answer could be put into a drawing for a free pound of chocolates.
  • Utilize your relationships with the media (you have those, right?) and pitch an American Chocolate Week story, based on your store, of course. This could definitely create exposure and enrich your customer base.
Have fun celebrating a holiday so sweet we need five days to celebrate! How will you be celebrating American Chocolate Week? Share in the comments below.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.