Hot chocolate has long had a monopoly on steamy cold-weather sips. But hot cocoa has a newfound competitor in Autumn Martin’s sipping caramel. Martin, the founder of Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery in Seattle, Washington, spikes the rich beverage with mezcal (a distinctive smoky liquor distilled from fermented juice of the agave plant), tipping the drink into adult-only territory. The smoky addition cuts through the thick, salty-sweet caramel, promptly welcoming the sipping caramel into our winter beverage repertoire.
Salted Sipping Caramel with Mezcal
Recipe adapted from Autumn Martin, Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, Seattle, WA
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Salted Caramel Sauce
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons mezcal
Flaky sea salt
1. Make the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the cream and heat until warm. In a separate medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the sugar and cook until the sugar is melted and turns light gold in color, 7 to 10 minutes. Gradually whisk in the heated cream, a little at a time, whisking after each addition to avoid any lumps. Once all the cream is incorporated, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and salt. Cool the caramel slightly or, if using later, cool the caramel completely and transfer to an airtight container. Store the caramel in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. Make the sipping caramel: In a medium bowl, add the cream and whisk until soft peaks form. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, add the prepared caramel sauce and the half-and-half. Cook, whisking constantly, until the caramel is melted and the drink is hot and frothy. Stir in the mezcal.
3. Pour the sipping caramel into 4 small heat-safe glasses and top with the whipped cream, sprinkle with sea salt and serve warm.