Struggling for a way to start this blog post, I typed “Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate” into my Google search tool to see if the results would inspire me. I bet you can guess the first item listed. That’s right…a link to Starbucks’ Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. And you know what that made me realize? Many of you are going to ask me if this mix will supply you with a homemade version of the coffee powerhouse’s favorite hot cocoa drink. My answer? I have no idea.
I can hardly believe it myself, but I have never tried Starbucks’ Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. I’ve heard of it many many times, from many many people, but it never occurred to me to order hot cocoa at a coffee shop. It is now at the top of my to do list.
Last month, I made a batch of this to use up at home so I could test it out before serving it in our holiday baskets. My mother-in-law was coming into town to watch Judah while Ben and I traveled to San Francisco for a few days, so I planned to make it while she was here. The night before we left for SanFran, I heated up a cup for the two of us. I thought it was a little too salty, even though I cut a tablespoon of the sea salt out of the original recipe. Interestingly enough, though, the subsequent times I made a drink (from the same batch) it wasn’t too salty at all. Even-so, I still cut down the salt some more when putting together the next lot for the Christmas baskets.
I think Mama G had the same experience. If her first cup was too salty, it didn’t seem to phase her. When we arrived home, we found her in the middle of heating up another tall glass of this hot cocoa. She had a few more servings during the next couple of days she was with us, and when she realized we forgot to pack up the rest of the mix for her to take home, she texted me and said “I wish I had brought the salted caramel cocoa.” My response? “Haha! I know! I thought of it after you left! I’ll have some tonight in your honor.”
You do need a food processor to make this, as it needs to pulverize the ingredients (including hard caramel) into a powder. One batch of this mix fills eight half-pint mason jars, which is enough to serve at least four people each jar. Below is a downloadable PDF of the labels I created for these jars. Print them on sticker paper, then affix to the lid. Perfect addition for a gift basket.
Click the image below for downloadable, printable labels created by Miranda, a talented Pennies on a Platter reader. Thanks, Miranda!
The slightly burnt caramel magically transforms this hot mix into a sweet and salty chocolaty drink.
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups good quality Dutch cocoa powder
- 1 to 3 tablespoons fleur de sel or good sea salt (My preference is 1-tbsp)
- 1 cup dry milk powder
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Heat the 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar in a large heavy pan, over medium heat, without stirring. When the sugar begins to melt, take the handle of the pan and swirl it to melt without burning. The sugar might seem to crystallize, but it will eventually melt to a deep amber color. (Can take 15-20 minutes, so be patient.)
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla. Whisk the caramel until smooth again, then immediately pour it onto the lined baking sheet. Allow it to spread without touching it. Set aside and let the caramel harden, at least 1 hour.
When ready to make the mix, use the back of a large spoon to tap the caramel several times into small broken pieces that can fit into the feeding tube of a large food processor. Turn the processor on, and while running, feed the caramel pieces into the tube so the processor pulverizes the caramel into a fine powder. Continue to add the pieces, a few at a time, until it is completely powder (a cloud of caramel dust will float out of the tube). Turn the processor off and follow the next steps to complete the mix.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate, into the food processor with the caramel powder. Replace the lid and process until smooth. Add the chocolate to the bowl and process again until the mixture is a fine powder.
Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place for up to one month. To serve, stir 3 tablespoons mix into 1 cup hot milk.