Chocolate, Caramel and Sea Salt are one of those special combinations that really make your taste buds sing. I LOVE this foodie celebrity-couple. Try this 15 minute recipe for richly decadent Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.
I’m not exactly sure when I jumped on the SALT + CARAMEL bandwagon. But I am “drinking the Kool-Aid,” as a former mentor might say.
Recently, I had a wonderful chocolate caramel tart with salted caramel ice cream from The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma, an amazing French restaurant that you MUST try. [Best pork chop of my life, too].
Great quality caramel is a bit salty on its own. Salt brings out the burnt sugar, butter and vanilla-infused flavors. For this drink, you can use whatever caramel you have on-hand. However, if you have the time and inclination, I recommend making it yourself. This Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce from Brown Eyed Baker is a hit.
For this drink, I prefer to use high-quality Sea Salt or finishing salt. Table salt is a no-go: too salty on the tongue. The size of each grain of sea salt is bigger but actually less salty on the tongue. Kosher salt or other large-grained salt will do OK as a substitute.
In addition to caramel sauce and salt, you will need good quality chocolate. You can make this with plain ‘ol chocolate chips (and it still tastes great) but if you have excellent chocolate it is a transcendent experience. Callebaut or Guittard are great options.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Makes 1 Mug of Chocolate
Chocolate Ganache Base
Makes enough for 2-3 mugs of chocolate
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
4 ounces Chocolate, finely chopped (I used semi-sweet but chef’s pick!)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pour cream into a small saucepan. Bring to gentle simmer on medium heat, scraping the sides of the saucepan with a silicone spatula. If a skin forms on the bottom of the pan, don’t scrape it.
[If the cream ends up with bits from the bottom, you can strain it through a coffee filter to remove them. But taste test the cream to be sure there aren't any off-flavors.]
Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium glass bowl. Once cream has simmered, pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla extract on top and let it just sit 3-4 minutes. With a spoon, gently stir the mixture until thoroughly combined. There should not be any un-melted chocolate pieces and the ganache should have a shiny sheen. Set aside.
[If chocolate mixture is not 100% melted, you can zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time. Or, don't even worry about it as you don't need a super-smooth ganache for this drink.]
In the same saucepan (to save on dishes), heat up one (1) cup of milk on medium heat. When hot but not simmering, remove from heat. Add 4-6 tbsp of the chocolate ganache base to the milk and stir to combine.
If cold, heat up your caramel in the microwave until pourable consistency. Grab a serving mug and spoon caramel onto the sides of the inside of the mug. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt (~1/8 tsp) into the bottom and sides of the mug.
Pour your hot chocolate mixture into the mug. Top with freshly whipped cream. Spoon caramel over the top and sprinkle lightly with sea salt to taste.
As you can see, my Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate overflowed with happiness. Perfect for a wintery day!