Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Sauce

'Tis the season for sweet, warm, chocolate-y things. This sauce is a staple in my family -- it makes stellar hot chocolate and is fantastic warmed up and drizzled over ice cream, bananas, or berries (I like it with poached pears, too). It's even been known to disappear from the jar in spoonfuls all on its own. Here's the recipe in three different quantities, so you can make a little bit for just you, a lot for your next party, or a ton, to jar and give to friends and neighbors around the holidays. No matter how much you make, it's sure to disappear quickly!

Chocolate Caramel Sauce
One cup (double for a pint)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate bits
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Two Pints
24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate bits
2 cups milk
1/2 stick of butter
4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Nine Pints (2+ gallons, make this in a large soup pot)
72 oz. semi-sweet chocolate bits
1 and 1/2 quarts milk
1 and 1/2 stick of butter
2 and 1/2 pounds brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate bits in a double boiler over simmering water.

Add milk and whisk to blend.

Add the brown sugar, mix well and cook until thick. (At this point you can test the thickness by seeing how instantly fudge-y the sauce becomes on a little bit of ice cream.)

Add in the butter and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and eat or jar immediately!

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