Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tip #304: Develop a New Confection in 5 Steps



If summertime is a slower season for your business, consider taking this time to experiment and have fun with new flavors and techniques. Use the following guide presented by Joe Sofia, with Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, during RCI’s 2018 Annual Convention & Industry to develop recipes for new confections. RCI Members: View the full presentation by logging in at retailconfectioners.org/pasteducation.

1. CREATE A "GOLD STANDARD" SAMPLE
Turn your concept into a tangible sample by focusing on a desired flavor and texture. Small benchtop samples are inexpensive, fun and provide helpful guidance. Remember to have an open mind during this step, constraints can come later.
2. GET THE HELP YOU NEED
If you’re a member of RCI, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of your membership and its valuable network of candy makers and suppliers willing and able to address your questions. Another option would be to hire an experienced confectionery consultant, which could save you a significant amount of time. Lastly, help yourself by seeking out educational courses, like the many offered by RCI and other industry organizations.
3. SEEK FEEDBACK
Sharing test samples with employees and customers is not only a great way to get useful feedback, but it's a way to involve your team and engage your customers. Alternatively, consider mailing samples to trusted friends or members of a professional organization you may be a part of, like RCI or your local chamber of commerce. Most importantly, use the feedback to guide your recipe choices.
4. SCALE UP
Produce the minimum batch size in a real production environment, taking detailed notes and measurements. Adjust as necessary and use these samples to test the shelf life of the recipe.
5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO START OVER
Avoid the temptation to move forward with a concept if the results don't meet your original expectations.

This easy-to-follow guide will help to keep you on the right track to potentially find your next signature confection! Looking for to learn more great ideas from fellow candy makers and suppliers, register now to attend RCI’s Regional Conference in Nashville, TN August 19-21!

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Throwback Tip #246: Making Meltaways with Untempered Chocolate


The most common way to make a meltaway is to combine tempered chocolate with melted coconut oil until it is smooth. Because coconut oil is a lauric fat, it must be added at a lower temperature so not to throw the chocolate out of temper. If the chocolate becomes untempered (or was never tempered to start with) the nice, smooth texture of the meltaway will eventually be replaced with an unpleasant mouthfeel due to the formation of fat globules.

Mixing Things Up
Consider this alternative method to making stable, smooth-textured meltaways with untempered chocolate. Instead of adding fat to tempered chocolate, combine untempered chocolate and coconut oil in a mixer. Mix at a slow speed until the temperature is below 78ยบ F and has visibly thickened. Referred to as the “mixer method” in curriculum shared at RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp®, it achieves the same desired stability and texture the meltaway is revered for, without the hassle of keeping temper.

If you live in the Connecticut area, it’s not too late to register for RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo in Hartford, Connecticut June 3-7, 2019 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Attend RCI’s two-day Industry Expo for only $5 with promo code RCIHigh5Click here to register online today!

As always, attending RCI’s Industry Expo is free to members! Extend your stay and we’ll extend the early-bird discount to offer you the best value! Register now and save $100 on the Convention Pass or 3-Day Pass when you use the promo code SAVE100.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Throwback Tip #269: Celebrate National Almond Buttercrunch Day


This buttery and crunchy treat is “one of the finest confections made,” according to Walter Richmond, author of Choice Confections.

With National Almond Buttercrunch Day at the end of June, now is the time to make plans to perfect your recipe or introduce this popular confection into your product line. Keep reading for expert tips on how to achieve the signature crunch as well as a formulation worthy of a national holiday.

So how do you get the perfect crunch? This confection’s signature crunch comes from a high cook temperature and the right formulation of ingredients, namely butter and sugar. Typically made by caramelizing sugar with butterfat at a high temperature of 290-300° F. Equally important, the ratio of butter and sugar will have an effect of the grain of the crunch. Richmond recommends 37-42 percent butter and 63-58 percent sugar (nuts excluded) for the confection to gradually become softer and melt in your mouth when eating.

Use the following formulation to adapt this classic recipe in your own candy kitchen.
Click here to download formulation

Whether it’s the crunch or rich buttery goodness, consumers love buttercrunch enough to honor it with a national holiday. If you’re looking for opportunities to learn more about improving your buttercrunch and other candy recipes, connecting with fellow candy makers is one of the best ways to do so. It’s not too late to register for RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo in Hartford, Connecticut June 3-7, 2019 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Attend RCI’s two-day Industry Expo for only $5 with promo code RCIHigh5. Click here to register online today!

As always, attending RCI’s Industry Expo is free to members! Extend your stay and we’ll extend the early-bird discount to offer you the best value! Register now and save $100 on the Convention Pass or 3-Day Pass when you use the promo code SAVE100.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Throwback Tip #257: 5 Sweets that Beat the Heat


The first day of summer is a month away! If this means more outdoor festivals, farmers markets, picnics and parties on the horizon, don’t let warm weather keep your business from shining at outdoor events. Read on for ideas on more sturdy treats that aren’t as likely to melt in consumers' hands.

Photo by Romulo Yanes


Marshmallows

RCI member Hilliard’s Chocolates’ toasted coconut marshmallow is their “tried and true” summer confection. Try it yourself with this recipe from Epicurious.


Kakao Chocolate presented Truffle Shots during RCI's Candy Clinic in 2016.


Truffle Shots

RCI member, Kakao Chocolate shared a creative idea at a past Candy Clinic for a mess-free summery chocolate treat. By piping ganche into compostable cups, Kakao Chocolate’s truffle shots allow them to deliver the same great chocolatey taste their known for at farmers’ markets and other outdoor events without the threat of chocolate melting in customers’ hands.

MarthaStewart.com

Brittles & Toffees

As long as they’re not coated in chocolate, you can count on these hard candies to stand tough. This recipe for sweet and smoky brittle from MarthaStewart.com would make the perfect addition to a summer BBQ or pool-party themed display or sold at a farmers’ market.

Tastemade.com

Fudge
Not only do many fudge recipes hold up to reasonable heat, no-cook fudge recipes can help you keep the temperature down in your candy kitchen. Check out this tutorial for watermelon fudge that screams summer! Consider inserting popsicle sticks into watermelon wedges to serve as fudge pops.

Chocolate Storybook


Cotton Candy

A staple at any outdoor carnival or boardwalk, these sugary clouds melt in your mouth, but not in your hand. When stored properly, cotton candy can withstand relatively high temperatures and deliver pops of color to your booth or retail shop. If you don’t want to make it yourself, Chocolate Storybook wholesales 31 unique flavors of hand-spun, specialty cotton candy from classic pink vanilla to spicy jalapeno.

Outshine the sun this spring and summer with these 5 delicious treats that can tolerate the heat, without turning into a melty, soupy mess. 

Register now for RCI's Annual Convention & Industry Expo

Get more inspired ideas like these from fellow confectionery professionals and join us at RCI's Annual Convention & Industry Expo June 3-7, 2019 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT. Register now to attend RCI's two-day Industry Expo for only $5 with the promo code "RCIHigh5." For more information and to register online, visit retailconfectioners.org/annual.

Note: The above recommendations are intended for use in reasonable conditions and not guaranteed to withstand extreme heat, such that might occur in shipping during spring and summer months.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tip #303: Save with Special Offers from Exhibitors at RCI Industry Expo


RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo is right around the corner! If you haven’t done so already, there's still time to join RCI in Hartford, Connecticut June 3-7, 2019! Click here to see who’s exhibiting by viewing the expo floor plan which includes exhibitor company descriptions and contact information. 

Get the 2-Day Expo Ticket for only $5 with the promo code "RCIHigh5" (regularly $10 in advance or $25 onsite--as always, RCI members get into the Industry Expo for free). Visit retailconfectioners.org/annual for more information and to register to attend.

Not only are industry trade shows a great opportunity to see new product innovations and connect with suppliers and fellow confectioners, you can also save money on items such as packaging, equipment and ingredients. Many exhibitors will provide show specials just for those who take advantage of placing orders while at the show. For example, you could secure a reduced shipping rate or discounts on the same orders you may place a couple months from now, when the need arises. Keep in mind, most suppliers will allow you to place an order and arrange for later shipping dates so you could even place your Christmas order and know it will arrive at a later arranged date.



As an added incentive, every order placed during RCI’s Industry Expo is entered into a drawing for great prizes provided by exhibitors.

Crave more?
If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Throwback Tip #264: Celebrate Christmas in July


Do stagnant summer sales leave you longing for Christmas (well, maybe, minus the crazy schedule)? If so, you’re not alone. Blame it on the heat, summer vacations and the lack of major holidays, if you’re in the retail industry it’s no surprise summer is likely going to be a slow season (unless your business is in a tourism location).

A summertime spin on Christmas, could be a great opportunity for your business to heat things up this summer! Get the most out of your Christmas in July promotions by meeting these three objectives.

Photos: Dallas News
Stand Out & Increase Sales
You wouldn’t expect to hear Christmas carols or see Santa posing for photos in board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt in the peak of summer. Make your business stand out by hosting a Christmas party in July, complete with a sampling of your favorite Christmas treats, giveaways, live music and Santa in his vacation attire.

Generate New Customers
A study published by Adobe Digital shows repeat customers spend 25% more per transaction during the holiday rush, compared to a new customer who spends only 15% more during the holiday season.To help convert new customers into return customers, CaffeineInteractive.com suggests offering those who make a purchase during your Christmas in July promotion, a discount on future purchases between Black Friday and New Year’s Day. Consider keeping a separate email list for these customers, to send them a coupon just before Black Friday.

Reward Loyal Customers
Celebrate loyal customers by throwing a Christmas-themed customer appreciation party or offering a free gift for shopping in July. Shopkeep recommends inviting loyal customers to a flash sale in their honor and offering additional incentives for bringing a friend. Spread the word by sending invitations with details via email or snail mail.

Creating memorable shopping experiences for new and return customers may help pad more than just your summer sales. Kathy Allen of the National Retail Federation told USA Today, “When the holiday season does come, maybe that person who had a wonderful experience shopping in July remembers to come back, and will spend their holiday dollars there, or their Halloween dollars or their birthday dollars.” Do you celebrate Christmas in July? If so, share your ideas in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tip #302: 5 Ways to Build Even Better S'mores



With summer around the corner, now is a good time to start thinking about new and exciting summer treats to roll out. S’mores are a summer staple for sure, but why not reimagine flavor combinations that will entice shoppers to take their s’mores to the next level.

Here’s five of our favorite s’mores combinations to spark your creativity!

Simplegirlathome.blogspot.com

The Peanut Butter Cup S’more
For all the peanut butter lovers out there, this addition is a win-win! For a twist, suggest adding a swipe of jam to turn this into a PB&J S’more.

Jessfuel.com


The Sea Salt Caramel S’more
A sprinkle of sea salt will take everything to the next level, but imagine a melty sea salt caramel sandwiched between a toasty marshmallow and two graham crackers. If you have your own caramel sauce, this would be a great tie-in to achieve extra caramelly goodness! Yes, please! 

Sharedappetite.com

The Chocolate-Covered Potato Chip S’more
Encourage shoppers to add an extra layer of crunch to their s’mores with a couple of chocolate-covered potato chips.

Photo by Marty Woodcock

The Mint Chocolate S’more
Instead of a plain chocolate bar, pair marshmallows and a couple chocolate graham crackers with a mint chocolate meltaway.


Epicurious.com

The Toasted Coconut S’more
Adding toasted coconut marshmallows to a s’more is a sure-fire way to make any coconut fan melt. If toasted coconut marshmallows aren’t already part of your summer repertoire, we think they should be! Check out this recipe from Epicurious.

Marie's Candies
Once you’ve brainstormed all the different s’mores combinations available in your store, group them all together and display them as a “Build Your Own S’mores Bar,” as inspiration for shoppers’ to host a gourmet s’mores bar at backyard cookouts, birthday parties and even wedding receptions. We recommend including a sign with suggested flavor combinations featuring your confections, like RCI member, Marie's Candies.

Make your shop a one-stop destination for all the ingredients needed to make gourmet s'mores, including graham crackers, marshmallows and all the creative fixings!

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tip #301: 5 Ways to Attract & Retain Great Employees



“Cultivating a powerhouse team is key to the success of any business,” said Denise Kestner of ClearPath HR, a presenter at RCI’s 2018 Annual Convention & Industry Expo. Even the most successful businesses are on the lookout for ways to better ensure the right candidates are hired to join their teams. Keep reading as RCI member, Rebecca Craig of Marie’s Candies, shares what she learned from Denise’s presentation.
5 WAYS TO CULTIVATE TALENT:
Lead with Culture
During interviews, skip the complete company history as your intro. Instead begin by sharing benefits that are unique to our organization and appealing to potential candidates. If you offer an exceptional employee culture, that’s a great place to start. If your company history is important to you, stick to the highlight reel.

Start with Why
When crafting role descriptions for an open position, grab candidates' attention in a way that will attract people who share your purpose and values. Click here to check out Simon Sinik’s TED Talk based on his book, Start with Why. 

Be Creative with Benefits
Health insurance, life insurance, retirement, vacation, and etc. are important, but people also value fun things like popsicle breaks during the summer, fun birthday celebrations or even Manicure Fridays.

Try Working Interviews
“A working interview gives the employer a chance to see the applicant’s skills in action," according to employment solutions provider, Friday Staffing. "This arrangement can benefit both parties. Candidates get to see if they like the job. Hiring managers get to see how well the candidate will actually perform in the position. Not only does the working interview give the employer an opportunity to assess the work, but it also gives the job seeker an opportunity to ‘try out’ the job that they will be performing and to get a feel for the office culture.”

Don’t Stop Recruiting
Seek out the server at the restaurant who is passionate about the menu, the teller at the bank, who goes above and beyond to help and approach them about joining your team. You never know where you might meet your next rock star team member!

Give these tips a try and see how they impact your company culture! We want to know what great tips you have for cultivating talent within your business! Share in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.