Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix

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I am no help if you've made a resolution to lose weight/be healthier.  My first post of the year is for hot chocolate mix?!  Fortunately for the non weight watchers/health nuts, I make no such resolutions.

I debated on sharing this with you because I don't feel it's quite ready yet- I think some tweaking is in order, but for the time, this is still a killer hot chocolate mix.  If you've tried the salted caramel hot chocolate or the salted caramel mocha at Starbucks and enjoyed it, this one is for you.  This mix works well as a hot chocolate, and works as a coffee flavoring, too.  I'd like to experiment with adding instant mocha in the mix, but that's another post. 

I made this on Christmas Eve and gave it away as presents, and so far everyone who has tried it has enjoyed it.  This takes a few steps, but trust me that it's worth it.  It also makes a huge amount, so I had to process the ingredients in batches and stir it all together with a whisk in a large bowl.  Huge amount translates to lower cost per serving.  Yay!

This mix is great for gifts, and with winter really setting in in NC, it's good for those who need a warm drink. 

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix
from pennies on a platter

makes 32 servings

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.
  • I never thought I'd give this warning, but be careful when cleaning the pot in which you cooked the sugar.  Drew actually cut himself on some of the sugar
  • I made this on a rainy day and it still caramelized
  • I used 1 Tb. Fleur de Sel.  I'd likely add more next time.  I didn't feel the salt or caramel came through well in every cup I tried, so either more salt or better mixing is in order...
    • A note on Fleur de Sel.  If you live in an area where gourmet foods are sold, you could possibly buy or order this without much problem.  If not, follow the alternative directions and use a good quality sea salt or other gourmet salt.  This isn't really the time for table salt.
  • The more dutched your cocoa, the better because the more cocoa butter it has.  I can't buy dutched cocoa in stores near me and think it's sort of overkill to order specialty food items off the internet, so I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa.  I would have also used Trader Joe's cocoa, which I believe is mostly dutched.
  • I gave this away in 8 oz Mason jars.  They hold four servings (12 Tb) perfectly. 

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