Today is Valentine’s Day, or the day of romance, and Fiesta Friday #3 on the blog of The Novice Gardener. What better way to celebrate a cold winter day in Michigan than with a cup of delicious hot chocolate topped with all kinds of goodies.
Hot chocolate is always a favorite beverage for kids and adults alike especially during this snowy and cold winter here in Michigan. Instead of using a store mix you should try making your own. I adapted part of this hot chocolate recipe by pastry chef, Gale Gand.
I have also included a very yummy recipe for salted caramel that I made last weekend at a Valentine Macarons class at Sur la table under the directions of Chef Keegan Rodgers. I should have taken more pictures but we all were so busy for 3 hours making cookies, fillings and eating the caramel by the spoonful – after we were done making the cookies of course!
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Callebaut)
- 1/2 cup sugar (I used superfine or baker’s sugar as it melts faster)
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used a Vietnamese cinnamon)
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract or a coffee liqueur such as Kahlua
- mini marshmallows to garnish or whipping cream would be good as well
- salted caramel for drizzling (see recipe below or use Williams Sonoma Salted Caramel Sauce)
- chocolate syrup for drizzling
- sprinkles (optional – I used mini red hearts)
Heat the milk and half and half in a saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Combine the cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon; I sift the mixture so there are no lumps. A few teaspoons at a time stir enough hot milk into the cocoa mixture to make a smooth, rather thick chocolate sauce. Scrape mixture into the saucepan with the milk and simmer 2 minutes; do not let it boil. Stir in vanilla or a coffee liqueur if desired. I like to use both for adults and only the vanilla for kids.
Pour the hot chocolate into your mugs and garnish with marshmallows or whipping cream. Drizzle salted caramel and chocolate syrup on top using a drizzling dessert spoon or a squeeze bottle; add sprinkles if desired. I did not include recipes for whipping cream or chocolate sauce but see my posts Whipping Cream Eight Ways and Hot Fudge Sauce Two Ways. Serve your favorite Valentine this delicious beverage along with a Valentine Oreo or a Pretzel Rod Covered in Chocolate.
Sur la Table's Salted Caramel
- 1 lb. granulated sugar (superfine or baker’s sugar melts faster)
- 4 oz. water
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup (Karo)
- 10 oz. heavy cream
- 2-1/2 tsp. sea salt (Maldon is what I use)
- 8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces (Chef Keegan recommends Kerrygold Pure Irish Unsalted Butter) – leave the butter out overnight
Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan with tall sides. I always use a copper pan for this. Stir only once to combine, then dip a silicone pastry brush in water and wash down the sides of the saucepan to get rid of any sugar crystals. Cook on low heat until the syrup comes to a boil washing down the sides of the pan as needed.
Increase heat to medium-high; gently swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir) until mixture turns a deep golden-brown color. The bubbles will start to get bigger and the outside first will turn brown and gradually the entire mixture will turn a pretty golden-brown. You have to watch this closely as the caramel can burn in just a second, so do not turn your back on this step by answering your phone or petting the dog.
Remove from the heat and slowly pour in all of the cream. Be careful as the mixture will spatter and it is very hot! You do not want any of this on you! Stir with a silicone spatula (this spatula can handle temperatures up to 600°) until smooth; add the sea salt.
Transfer to your KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until cooled to 100°F. Reduce the speed to low and add butter, a little at a time whisking after each new addition. Once all of the butter is incorporated, return to medium-high speed and whisk for a few minutes. You could also do this by hand whisking.
Allow mixture to cool and thicken to desired consistency; refrigerate if necessary. You can see the salty caramel oozing from the hazelnut macaron below – yum. I will post recipes for these cookies another time; a little tricky to make but fun!