Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on December 6, 2010

Can you tell I was never on any sports team in high school? Any time the word “competition” is mentioned, I start to get the cold sweats. I’d rather just be a participant, a team player, not a contestant to be judged. Maybe I’m still smarting from the humiliation of all-class kickball games in fourth grade, or maybe I’m just a wuss.

But I’m also easily persuaded. So when my fellow food writers bully me into doing a hot cocoa cook-off, I must reluctantly pull out my dueling pistols and defend my honor.

salted caramel hot cocoa
Back in October, I reunited with Food Blogger Camp besties Stephanie Stiavetti, Sarah Olson and Garrett McCord at BlogHer Food in San Francisco. Once again, the minute we got together, it was like sleepover camp run amok, complete with late-night pillow giggle sessions, in-jokes repeated ad infinitum and lots of snacky overeating.

In between viewings of Dr. Tran videos, copious consumption of Hi-Chew candies, epic drunken photo sessions at parties, and actual conference attending, our conversations kept returning to the salted caramel hot chocolate we’d sampled from Oakland’s Bittersweet on our first night in town.

The four of us had split a huge cup of the hot chocolate like an appetizer on our way to dinner and were all impressed by its distinctly savory caramel notes. “How would you make it?” became a constant refrain over the next five days, and we couldn’t help but brainstorm other hot chocolate variations.

The challenge was on. I’m not calling it a competition because of the aforementioned sweats, but you’re certainly encouraged to make all of the cocoa varieties we’ve invented:

And my entry below, of course, a fairly faithful replication of the Bittersweet salted caramel hot chocolate. My preference runs to a less-rich cocoa powder-based drink rather than the intense hot chocolates flavored with chocolate shavings, but feel free to add an ounce of semisweet chocolate chips if you’re into a thicker drink.

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