Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tip #190: Don’t Sweat It! Stop Sea Salt Caramels from Sweating

Suffer from sweaty sea salt caramels? Take tips from fellow candy makers and RCI members on how to avoid this common problem, as discussed through RCI’s member forum, List Serve.

“We are looking for a high-quality sea salt for our caramels. We experience problems when storing salted caramels in our cool room (50 degrees – 50% humidity). The sea salt seems to sweat or become clear on the caramel when stored.” - M. Mootz, Michael Mootz Candies, Inc.

“We do not store our sea salt caramels at a reduced temperature due to similar issues, we store [sea salt caramels] at factory room temperature.” – T. Hicklin, Candy House Gourmet

“Some salts are harder than others. Pink Himalayan sea salt is harder and more dense. It is less likely to absorb moisture.” – R. Hofberger, (retired)

“I would recommend dehumidifying to at least 40%. If that can’t be done, shrink wrap the boxes/cases. Completely enclose the product and then store. It works very well.” – Marty Lyp, Peterbrooke Chocolatier

If you’re a member of RCI and you would like to get in on the conversation, click here to subscribe to List Serve. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business. 

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tip #189: Celebrate National Spring Cleaning Week – Throw an Office Cleaning Party!

If you spend a lot of time behind a keyboard, it should be no surprise that germs can make a home out of all those nooks and crannies. In fact, keyboards, along with phones, water fountain handles and microwave door handles rank at the top of the most germ-contaminated spots in the office. Need a more compelling reason to host an office cleaning party this week? According to a study conducted by Dr. Charles Gerba with University of Arizona, “the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.” Do you have a disinfectant wipe in hand, yet?

Whether you hire a cleaning service to keep your workplace clean or not, there’s a good chance some areas of your office could use a little extra cleaning. Consider scheduling a brief “office cleaning party” (15-minutes to an hour, depending on your need), for all office staff to address key areas within their personal workstation (e.g., keyboards, phones, computer monitors, etc.) and delegate individuals or teams to tackle public spaces like the break room (e.g., coffee maker and microwave), restrooms and lobby (if necessary). Few people enjoy cleaning, but there are ways to make it more fun by playing energizing music and making sure you have all the supplies needed to get the job done. By giving the team a reason to move around and change up the day-to-day monotony, you might be surprised to find, not only, a cleaner office, but a more motivated and focused team.

Click here for seven “handy hacks” from Staples.com to make your office cleaning party a breeze! 

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 15, 2016

Tip # 188: Burst those Bubbles!

Pesky air bubbles often cause grief to chocolatiers, especially when using chocolate moulds. Tapping a filled mould by hand or using a shaker table or other equipment, can effectively release trapped air from the chocolate. The frequency of this motion can play a critical in forcing air to the chocolate’s surface. 

Did you know that very high frequency pulses or taps to the mould can have the adverse effect by increasing the depth of the chocolate’s surface tension layer, trapping air and pushing it to the bottom of the mould? To the chocolatier’s dismay, unsightly hollow spots or huge bubbles will later appear on the face of the moulded chocolate. 

For best results, experiment with tapping filled mold at rates between 5 and 20 times a second produce, depending on the viscosity of the chocolate and the mould’s shape.

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 8, 2016

Tip # 187: Apply the 80/20 Rule to your Marketing Messaging

The Pareto principle is a common rule of thumb in business that suggests 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customer base, as one example. This principle can be applied to many facets of business and marketing, but today we’re going to focus on content marketing that will compel consumers versus repel them.

It may be easy to lean on platforms like email blasts and social media to push product, promote the sale or urge online ordering! Be careful not to inundate your followers with messaging that is purely focused on making the sale. This approach can actually cause followers to lose interest and, perhaps, even mistrust your brand.

You will have better success at building a loyal following of consumers who are genuinely interested in your company, the products you sell and the people who make them, if 80% of your content is devoted to sharing valuable and useful information that helps to weave your brand’s story. Leave the remaining 20% to the sales pitch.

Here’s a few ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Sharing interesting facts about your company history is always a win, especially when paired with a photo.
  • A peek behind the scenes can convey a sense of transparency and makes your company more trustworthy.
  • Add a personal touch by congratulating staff on important milestones, such as employment anniversaries, birthdays, babies, graduations, weddings and etc.
Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member of RCI? Click here to learn more about how RCI can help your build your sweet business.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tip # 186:Take 3 Tips from RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp

Last week, twenty-seven chocolatiers participated in Retail Confectioners International’s Chocolate Boot Camp®. Although students in the course varied in age and experience, each of them graduated with a better understanding of working with chocolate.

“No matter what size your company is or how long you have been in business, there is always something to learn at Chocolate Boot Camp," says Michael Crudden, Vice President of Operations at Rosalind Candy Castle and 2016 course graduate.

We’ve snagged 3 quick tips from this popular course to share with you! Even if you’re a seasoned vet, you may be surprised to learn something that you can incorporate into your business.

Tip #1: Some centers need to be cooled in order to make them firm enough to hold their shape. If centers are too cold, they will cause the chocolate coating to crack and have a dull finish. Ideally, centers should be between 65-75 degrees Farenheit when coated in chocolate.
Tip #2: When using chocolate moulds, avoid bloom by making sure the moulds are 4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the chocolate.

Tip #3: If you don’t have a tempermeter, dip a knife blade into chocolate, leaving a thin film on the blade. If the chocolate is firm and not tacky in 5 minutes, at normal room temperature (65-68 degrees Farenheit), it is in good temper.
Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.