In pursuit of salted caramel hot chocolate
Ever since my friend Nancy uttered the phrase “salted caramel hot chocolate” last Friday, I’ve been a little obsessed. Although my original intention had just been to go to Starbucks and buy one, our weekend was kind of crazy and I couldn’t get there. Instead I assembled some ingredients during my trip to the grocery store and decided to try to make my own.
I googled for a little advice and inspriation, and came upon this recipe. It seemed a bit outrageously sweet and rich to me…6 ounces of sweetened chocolate plus 1/4 cup of sugar plus heavy cream in one cup of milk? I toned it down a bit, using 1/3 cup of Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 oz.) in straight whole milk (although admittedly the whole milk I get is extrememly creamy). I omitted the extra sugar but did stir in a spoonful of Whole Foods Caramel Sauce. I just warmed the whole thing in the microwave and stirred it until all was melted. I topped it with whipped cream (from a can!), a drizzle of the caramel sauce, a sprinkle of turbinado sugar, and a sprinkle of coarse salt (I used Redmond Real Salt).
Phew! This was still so sweet and rich that (I’m not kidding here) it gave me a headache. And I’m no lightweight when it comes to sugar and fat. I think it would have been okay if I’d just drunk half, still with a full portion of the toppings. The turbinado sugar was superfluous–why include that at all when the caramel sauce is so tasty?
Next time around, I basically made regular hot cocoa boosted with a little chocolate. Here’s the recipe. I have no idea if it resembles the beloved version from Starbucks, but I like it. By which I mean that it’s a good thing that I have a finite amount of good milk around here, or I’d be drinking it every day.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
- 3 tbl. best quality cocoa powder
- 2 T. sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/3 c. chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli bittersweet, they are really good)
- 1 tsp. caramel sauce (or to taste), plus more for drizzling (I used Whole Foods Caramel Sauce)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2-1/2 cups whole milk
- For topping: whipped cream and coarse salt
Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, salt and water in a saucepan; heat gently until simmering. Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel sauce and stir until all is smooth and melted. Whisk in the vanilla and milk and heat through.
To serve, ladle into small (6 oz.) cups. Generously top with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce (it will require melting if it’s cold), and a sprinkle of salt.
Makes 4 servings. Which may or may not feed 4 people.