Starbucks, eat your heart out!
My dear friend Holly knows me well. Really well.
When I am down she can perk me up and the best advice she’s ever given me is to go eat some chocolate. This, my friends, is her “I’m having a lousy day and the kids are driving me nuts and I’m late to an appointment and oh, what’s the use” chocolate pick me up.
Everyone should have a friend this awesome.
Hi! This is Holly, the Mom in PheMOMenon.com. I’m absolutely thrilled to be sharing two of my family’s favorite recipes with you here on darling Krista’s site! Krista and I finally met in person this past summer and I feel like I’ve known her my whole life! I adore her and was completely delighted when she asked if I would like to guest post for her while she was away for a couple of days enjoying some much deserved me-time – well, her-time, not ME… well… you get it!
Speaking of me-time – yes, me this time, and well, YOU too for that matter! – savoring a good cup of hot chocolate and a couple cookies - or three – is quite probably my most favorite way to steal a little bit of time for me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but this Mama is a whole lot nicer when she’s had a bit of chocolate!
I actually came up with this recipe last year in a large quantity to make as Christmas gifts for the teachers at my son’s school. We loved it so much that we now make it and keep it on hand for us too! I love having it as a mix so that I can make a cup very quickly when I want it without having to go through a big batch to get the same effect.
While it may sound a little intimidating to melt dry sugar in a pan to make the caramel for the mix, it’s really not. If you keep your heat down a bit until you are comfortable and just don’t walk away from the pan I think you’ll find that making dry-method caramel is quite fun and satisfying – it is definitely kitchen magic! (Speaking of kitchen magic, if you want to get fancy you can even make a few caramel corkscrews of your own and play with the sugar a bit more – go on, be brave!).
As for the cookies, these are my son’s absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie. He loves the pure chocolate taste of the cocoa nibs in with the chocolate. The cookies are slightly on the crisper side, but you can under-bake them just a bit like I do so that they stay soft (or bake them longer for a kind of shortbread cookie). They have a great flavor and texture to them and are fun to make because they are actually cut out of the dough after it is rolled just a bit for a very neat and uniform look.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and take a little time for you this weekend! After all, the weather is now officially turned colder and that means it is prime time for treats that will warm you up.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix
For the Caramel:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Line a baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment or foil, set aside. In a medium pan, preferably non-stick, place the sugar over medium heat and allow it to melt gently without stirring. The edges and underneath will start to melt first and caramelize, you can then very gently jiggle the pan to help more of the sugar melt in to the mixture. This will only take 4 to 5 minutes at the most so don’t walk away, just watch your sugar melt into caramel and let it get to a medium golden color then remove from the heat and add the vanilla and sea salt. It will bubble a bit, so be careful and swirl the pan to mix it just a bit. It’s not really important if it mixes in because it’s all going to be pulverized in the food processor when hard. While the caramel is still liquid, pour it out onto your lined baking sheet and allow it to harden and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Use the bottom of your pan, a mallet, or rolling pin, to tap the caramel a few times and break it up into smallish pieces that you can easily fit into your food processor. Place the caramel shards into the food processor and with the lid completely closed allow the caramel to be pulverized into a fine powder – it will be loud at first and then more quiet as the caramel is turned into caramel powder. Don’t open the lid of the food processor until the powder has settled. This will all only take about 4 minutes. Now you’re ready to make this into the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix…
Add the following to the caramel powder in the food processor:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably good-quality Dutch process)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup cornstarch (optional – makes for a creamier, thicker finished product and also helps your mix not clump in storage)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pulse the mixture a few times to chop and combine thoroughly, then process for 15 seconds until combined and powdery.
To the cocoa/caramel mixture add:
6 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (preferably from a block, but chocolate chips will work too)
Pulse the mixture a few times to chop and combine, then allow to process for 15 to 30 seconds more or until the mixture is all combined and powdery. Don’t process it so long though that you start to melt the chocolate in your food processor.
Store the mixture in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Makes 4 cups of mix – enough for 16 servings approximately.
To make a cup of Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate:
Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of mix to 1 1/4 cup hot milk and whisk or stir well. Top with whipped cream and caramel corkscrews for a pretty treat!
Holly at PheMOMenon.com