What is it about snowy nights that cause cravings for mugs of hot chocolate? It isn’t like I am actually out in the snow and need to warm up. Rather, I am snuggled up with a blanket watching the snow fall outside from the comfort of my couch. Yet, I still crave a warm drink.

Last year I was all about the spicy hot chocolate, adding a pinch of cayenne to kick things up a notch. This year, I am all about salted caramel … smoky salted caramel to be exact. It all started with Peace Coffee’s Smokey Salted Caramel Cortado back in October, so when my friends at Kitchen in the Market tweeted about a smoked salt caramel recipe from a recent cooking class, the craving kicked back in.

Don’t worry, if you don’t have time to make the caramel sauce yourself, they sell little bottles at their storefront for just $2.50, but I’ll share the recipe here so you can get your own fix of Smoked Salt Caramel Hot Chocolate during the next snowfall.

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

Smoked Salt Caramel Sauce
From Tastebud Tart at Kitchen in the Market

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2-3 drops of lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt

Mix sugar, water and lemon juice in a 2 qt sauce pan. Bring to a fast boil. Cook sugar, washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush/water. Cook until the sugar just begins to caramelize at the edges. Do not over cook, as the caramel will burn quickly!

Remove from heat; stir in butter until melted, and then add the cream. You may use more cream to thin out the caramel a bit more if desired.

I used a pre-made hot chocolate mix (no surprise, Kitchen in the Market sells that too), stirred in a little whipped cream and drizzled the smoked salt caramel over top. Yum!