Salted caramel is a wonderfully complex flavor. When combined with hot chocolate, it provides plenty of stimulation for your taste buds. All of this is wrapped in a velvety blanket of milk and heavy cream that is perfect for relaxing away an evening.
Lya received three boxes of cocoa mix from her secret Santa at school. Everyone was so crazy about the salted cocoa mix that we ran out very fast. The girls asked if we could make our own from scratch. The result: a lot of fun and a delicious new recipe to ring in the New Year!
Servings: 10 servings
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cocoa powder, + extra for dusting
6 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1/2 cup whipped cream (optional)
In a mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder and cornstarch.
In a saucepan, heat the milk. As soon as it's warm, add to the cocoa powder and cornstarch. Stir well.
In another saucepan, heat the heavy cream. Set aside.
In a non-stick sauce pan, combine the sugar with water over medium-high heat. It's important to watch the sugar carefully; as soon as the edges of the pan start caramelizing, immediately lower the heat to medium-low.
Gently jiggle the saucepan in circles. Do not use a spoon! Lower the heat to the lowest setting when there are only a few remaining non-caramelized pieces. Don't let the sugar get dark brown or you'll get a burnt taste.
When all the sugar is an amber color, remove from the heat, pause for about a minute (be careful of splattering when the cream is added), then slowly add the warm cream and sea salt. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Let the sauce cool down a bit. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of caramel on the side and add the hot cocoa to the caramel. Stir until the caramel is dissolved in the milk. Add the vanilla extract.
Pour into 10 cups, filling up the cups 3/4 of the way up with the drink. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle the reserved caramel sauce and finish with a little cocoa powder, using a fine mesh shaker or a strainer.
Serve with tea cakes or holiday cookies.
While waiting for the caramel to become golden, watch it carefully; it could burn very easily!
Using a good quality sea salt will bring so much more flavor to the drink. Fleur de sel, for example, doesn't taste as harsh as regular table salt; it has a more briny flavor. You can find it at any specialty stores like Whole Foods.