Have you ever wondered, why do we call it hot cocoa half of the time and hot chocolate the other half of the time? The answer is very simple really and makes complete sense. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, therefor it doesn’t have the cocoa butter in it and hot chocolate is made from chocolate (which contains both the cocoa and cocoa butter). It seems pretty obvious and I had never really thought about why there are two names, until I went to post this recipe and was wondering what to call it.
You may have noticed my set today is dun duh duh dah – snow! Yes, lovely, lacy, glittery, perfectly bright and gorgeously white – bitter cold snow. There is actually a story behind it. Not that you care, but I just love the memories so I have to share. When I was young my siblings and I would go out to play in the snow and I got this grand idea once to build giant chairs out of snow, as large our little legs could roll and push a giant snowball. Yeah they’d get pretty heavy, it would probably be such a funny thing to watch us little kids trying to do. Anyways, we’d get our “thrones” as big as we could, then build a step in front so we could climb to the top of it (but it’s not like it was large enough we actually needed the step =), then we would build a backrest and arm rests on each side (snow is pretty mold-able under the proper conditions, on powdery snow days we’d never be able to do it). After our hard work was complete, I climbed onto my chair and about then I’d realize how cold I was (because when you have work to do it’s easy to forget such things), and I decided I needed a cup of hot cocoa to drink while sitting in my throne. So, I shaped a little cup holder into one of the arm rests, ran inside and prepared my hot cocoa then returned to my prized piece of art. I’d sit in my chair, until my butt started to go numb from being so cold from the chair – that was essentially made of ice ( which only took a few minutes ha ha) sipping my warm cup of cocoa. It was so much fun.
As you see because of that I will always love hot cocoa and not just because of it’s silky smooth, warm chocolaty decadence. Now if I would have had this caramel hot chocolate back then I really would have felt like royalty in my throne =). I had some caramel sauce waiting for a good use in my fridge and I thought seeing as it’s been negative degree weather it was the perfect time for hot cocoa. This hot chocolate is blissful to say the least. I will say, yes you could use store bought caramel sauce but it won’t be near as good as what you get with the homemade caramel sauce. It’s worth the little bit of extra effort. If you want a salted caramel version, simply sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top. This recipe really is very versatile and can be prepared to suite your personal taste. You can add in more chocolate, use more caramel sauce, you could use semi-sweet chocolate chips or even cocoa powder and sugar. I think it would also be delicious with dulce de leche in place of the caramel. How ever you make it, don’t forget to drizzle the top generously with caramel, it’s the best part – when you get a sip of half hot chocolate, half caramel drizzled whipped cream or marshmallows. MMMMM. Enjoy!
I don’t usually show the set (and don’t you love how I call it a “set” like I’m some pro photographer – I wish =), but this my view, peering out the window after I nearly froze my hands off getting the above pics. I came inside and ran my hands under warm water, the sting ahhh. Then I walked back over to the porch and peered out at the gorgeous little beauty awaiting and decided it was worth going back out for =).
I know this is turning into a seriously lengthy post, but I’ve been waiting for a great fit for my snowflake photos. Around Christmas time we had the most gorgeous snowflake storm I’ve ever seen. The snowflakes were visible to the naked eye. I spent about 2 hours taking pictures of snowflakes. They were stunning to say the least. I wish I would have had a ridiculously expensive camera along with a macro lens that captures perfect detail. Rather I own a Canon rebel, a 50mm macro lens and I don’t even own a tripod. For close ups like this, it would be nice so I’m not sitting their holding my breath trying not to shake my camera. The second was my favorite photo. I call it the mother snowflake. I wanted to call it such because it was like a mother snowflake, if you look closely their is a small snowflake safely resting upon it. Snowflakes truly are a gorgeous.
- 2 cups milk, preferably whole
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli)*
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce, recipe follows
- sweetened whipped cream or vanilla marshmallows
- grated chocolate and coarse or Maldon sea salt for garnish, optional
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- Prepare caramel sauce according to directions listed and allow to cool slightly. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once milk is warm, stir in chocolate chips and caramel, and cook whisking constantly until chocolate has melted. Allow to cool slightly and serve warm topped, topped with sweetened whipped cream or miniature marshmallows, drizzle each serving with 1 Tbsp caramel sauce and garnish with grated chocolate if desired.
- For the caramel sauce:
- Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a glass jar to cool.
- *For a richer hot chocolate, you can use up to 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and mix in more caramel sauce as well if desired.
- Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
I love the snowflakes that shine like diamonds.
Authors: Cooking Classy