I’m fussy about my hot chocolate. I use both mild and dark drinking chocolates to get the best of both worlds – sweet milky notes and mean, bitter cocoa. I don’t stop there: I shamelessly indulge myself by adding salted caramel, whipped cream, and mini marshmallows. You probably think that just adding caramel to hot chocolate would be too much of a good thing, and that added salted caramel would just be weird.
Salted caramel is something which foodies have been enthusing about in the last few years: the seasoning of salt added to the caramel enhances the smoky burnt sugar flavour. While rich, it’s not cloying, and it’s also marvellous in mocha, drizzled over ice cream, fruit or puddings, or swirled into cakes. Just be careful while making it – wear long sleeves and never take your eye off it. Once you’ve made the caramel, keep it all to yourself in a little jar – I think it’s too good to share, but there’s the possibility that you are more generous and less greedy than me.
- For the salted caramel:
- . 80g white caster/granulated sugar
- . 3 level tablespoons + 1 teaspoon golden syrup or clear runny honey
- . 30g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- . 100ml double cream, room temperature
- . ½ teaspoon sea salt, or a pinch of fine table salt
- . ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the hot chocolate:
- . 2 generously heaped teaspoons sweet drinking chocolate – I like Cadbury’s
- . 1 level teaspoon cocoa powder, or darker drinking chocolate
- . About 200ml milk, preferably full-fat.
- . 2 generous tablespoons salted caramel
- . Whipped cream (from an aerosol can, or whip about 50ml double cream) (Optional)
- . Marshmallows (Optional)
- Make the salted caramel: place the sugar and golden syrup or honey in a saucepan, melt together over a medium heat, swirling gently.
- When it boils, don’t move it and watch it carefully: once it turns dark golden brown and looks like coke, immediately take it off the heat, place on a well-insulated surface (wooden chopping board, newspapers, thick tea towels) and add the butter, cream, salt, and vanilla extract.
- It will bubble ferociously; whisk well till it subsides.
- Use immediately, or let it cool completely before storing in the fridge.
- Make the salted caramel hot chocolate in a microwave or on the hob.
- Hob: If necessary, melt caramel in small saucepan over medium heat; immediately pour into your mug, swirling and coaxing up the sides with a spoon.
- Then, pour the milk into the saucepan, whisk like the dickens until hot and steamy, then add your drinking chocolate mixes.
- Whisk well, pour into mug.
- Microwave: Dollop caramel into microwave-safe mug, heat for 10 seconds on high until melted; swirl up the sides using spoon.
- Pour in the milk, stir very well, and heat for 2 minutes, stirring very well halfway through.
- Mix in the drinking chocolates.
- You may wish to top up with a little extra milk to ensure a full mug.
- Finish with whipped cream, marshmallows, extra caramel, or a dusting of chocolate as desired. Serve hot.
Image courtesy of Pear Nuallak