The Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival brings warmth to the cold season

With various hot chocolate beverages and plenty of locations to visit until Feb. 14, the festival works to support small businesses

Butter Baked Goods' "Bumble Bee Hot Chocolate" with cookies and vanilla cake. (Submitted)

Butter Baked Goods’ “Bumble Bee Hot Chocolate” with cookies and vanilla cake. (Submitted)

In the middle of this cold winter, plenty of vendors around Greater Vancouver are serving up tasty hot chocolate. 

Until Feb. 14, the 14th annual Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival is taking place, featuring Greater Vancouver’s best chocolatiers, pastry shops, bakeries, cafes, and ice cream makers with unique and tasty hot chocolate creations. This year, 71 “chocstars,” 162 flavours, and 105 locations are being featured. 

The festival launched in 2011 and was the first city-wide initiative in the world to use hot chocolate beverages as a way to support small local businesses. 

One of the vendors in this year’s festival is Butter Baked Goods, a local business serving confections since 2007. 

“This is our third year participating in the festival, and as you can imagine, after Christmas things slow down a little bit in the bakery business and the restaurant world,” says Marion Van Keken, manager of Butter Baked Goods. 

“So, it’s always great to get people in the door and excited about something new, and hot chocolate and winter weather go hand in hand.” 

 The festival helps generate traffic to keep the business busy, and bakeries do best when their confections are made and turned out quickly, Van Keken says.  

This year, Butter Baked Goods has three hot chocolate flavours for people to try out. “Homemade You-Know-What Chocolate” is a classic hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and a chocolate cookie crumble. The order also comes with a slice of cookies and cream cake. 

The “Pink Flamingo” order is a white hot chocolate, finished off with pink whipped cream and hot pink sparkling sugar sprinkles. The drink is served with a red velvet cake with pink buttercream icing. 

The third flavour is “Bumble Bee Hot Chocolate,” a dark hot chocolate with steamed milk. The drink is topped off with honey whipped cream and a dark chocolate drizzle, and served with Butter Baked Goods’ vanilla cake with a bumble bee striped vanilla buttercream. All three orders are available for the duration of the festival. 

“We want our drinks to be enjoyed by everyone, especially families,” Van Keken says. 

“I know some businesses create really elaborate drinks that can get really expensive to make. But we decided to keep our drinks at a reasonable price point, which is $6 for the drink and side goodie, and hopefully make it available to everyone for everyone to enjoy.”

Out of the three options, Van Keken says “Bumble Bee Hot Chocolate” seems to be the most popular, although all three options have been well-received. 

Van Keken says she got into the industry through her passion for baking and enjoying baked goods, but also for the social interactions. She took over Butter Baked Goods from its founder, Rosie Daykin, just as society was coming out of the pandemic. 

“I was really looking forward to doing something that had some interaction with people and got me outside of the house,” Van Keken says. “I generally enjoy hospitality and making people happy with food.”

For Butter Baked Goods, Van Keken says reception with the festival has been great so far and customers are showing a lot of enthusiasm for the different beverages on social media. 

“The whole event comes to a climax with Valentine’s Day. So, we hope to get lots of people to enjoy our hot chocolate until [then].”