1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 1-1/2 cups heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, + extra for dusting 6 cups whole milk 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt) 1/2 cup whipped cream
In a mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder and cornstarch. In a saucepan, heat the milk. As soon as it's warm, add to the cocoa powder and cornstarch. Stir well. In another saucepan, heat the heavy cream. Set aside. In a non-stick sauce pan, combine the sugar with water over medium-high heat. It's important to watch the sugar carefully; as soon as the edges of the pan start caramelizing, immediately lower the heat to medium-low. Gently jiggle the saucepan in circles. Do not use a spoon! Lower the heat to the lowest setting when there are only a few remaining non-caramelized pieces. Don't let the sugar get dark brown or you'll get a burnt taste. When all the sugar is an amber color, remove from the heat, pause for about a minute (be careful of splattering when the cream is added), then slowly add the warm cream and sea salt. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Let the sauce cool down a bit. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of caramel on the side and add the hot cocoa to the caramel. Stir until the caramel is dissolved in the milk. Add the vanilla extract. Pour into 10 cups, filling up the cups 3/4 of the way up with the drink. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle the reserved caramel sauce and finish with a little cocoa powder, using a fine mesh shaker or a strainer.