The Easy Caramelized Alternative To Hot Chocolate

It's a chilly evening outside with a light drizzle hitting the windows, and you're craving something that will warm your stomach and nourish your spirit. You're craving ... hot chocolate. But as you rifle through your cupboards, disaster strikes. You don't have chocolate chips or a chocolate bar, and you're also out of milk. Plus, that old tin of cocoa you keep tucked up on your top shelf for baking is now out of date. So what do you do — give up on your dreams of having a cozy drink for the evening?

Well, hold up, because there's an alternative — one that you can make with just two ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Butterscotch is a whole lot more than those creamy yellow discs rattling around grandpa's pocket or even that sticky sauce swirled over old-fashioned sundaes; It can also be a hot, sippable drink. And to whip it up, you just need butter and dark brown sugar. 

How to make a delicious hot butterscotch drink

As the author of "Baking at the 21st Century Cafe," Michelle Polzine told Epicurious to make a butterscotch drink, you heat butter and dark brown sugar together in a pan until it is smoking slightly to develop color and continually stir. While dark brown sugar is typical, Polzine prefers to use half brown sugar and half light muscovado, as the latter has a bit more of a caramelly taste. And if you have it sitting around, she suggests adding a dash of Santa Teresa 1796 rum as a boozy bonus.

As simple as the recipe sounds, Polzine says getting the flavor right is a matter of feel and constant tasting. How will you know when you've got there? Keep an eye out for the butter browning, the mixture lightly smoking, and the aroma of toasting marshmallows. Once you've got the scent, turn the heat down and start tasting it by dribbling a spoonful into cold water to avoid burning your tongue. 

And you're not looking for candy-sweet flavor, but what Polzine describes as "zero sweetness" — where the mixture is neither bitter nor sugary but walks the tightrope between the two. The Takeout describes the perfect result as "creamy and buttery, dark and almost-sweet with a little bit of salt at the end." 

But be warned — once you're on that creamy, dreamy, velvet-lined butterscotch train, hot chocolate might not get a look from you for a while.