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October 25, 2008

The salted caramel hot chocolate

saltedCaramel.jpgYesterday I saw an ad for Starbucks' Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.


No, I didn't buy one (but only because it couldn't possibly taste as good as it sounded), but I fantasized about it for the rest of the day.

Faithful readers know I'm fascinated by the naming of things. I may make this a second career: Surely if you were good at it you could get a lucrative job naming new soft drinks and writing restaurant menus.

I'm also fascinated by really bad names. For instance, last night Gailor called me, almost hysterical because she had seen something in the CVS called Pasta Vision.

Worst. Name. Ever. ...

She could not get over the fact that anyone would buy a machine for $49.99 (or whatever it cost at the CVS) that just cooked pasta.

First of all, for Gailor to realize a kitchen gadget is an absurd idea it has to be REALLY absurd. I didn't know before last night she knew that to cook pasta you boil some water in a pot and then put the pasta in, which is basically what the Pasta Vision does.

Maybe after awhile there'll be a separate gadget for everything we cook: a pasta machine, a steak machine, a broccoli machine, all neatly lined up on our counters.

But I guess I'm getting away from the salted caramel hot chocolate. Maybe today if it keeps raining I'd better try one. I like the nutritional info: 550 calories, 24 grams of fat. And that's when it's not made with whole milk.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:57 AM | | Comments (52)


The some type of pasta making tchatchka on tv infomercials now that I've seen enough of to wonder, "why in the name of god would anybody ever need this thing". It (evidently) cooks the pasta in a strainer lined bowl in the microwave and then you strain right into the sink (how clever) and sauce and serve in the same bowl. Pasta has to be the worlds easiest thing to make and get right so why someone felt the need to market this is anybody's guess.

Pasta Vision looks equally as insane. Besides, I agree with with Alton Brown, no single taskers in my kitchen except the fire extinguisher!

EL - I've been dissapointed with Starbucks "caramel" flavor in the past. I hope it's less sickening sweet in this drink so at least if you're going to go for the calories, you'll enjoy it!

That salted caramel hot chocolate sounded wonderful, until you said it was from Starbucks. They make all their drinks way too sweet.

Pasta Vision? It takes vision to boil spaghetti?

I've actually never had a sweet drink there. EL

When I was in my youth, I attended a National Scouting conference in Iowa. The theme was something like "Memories Of The Past-A Vision For the Future." Problem being that the design of the logo emphasized the middle of that phrase, hence we called it "Past-A Vision." I'm glad our mocking has become a reality.

Sounds like a good drink to go with my Chocolate Salty Balls

I'll never know about the new caramel drink--my favorite Starbucks at Belvedere has closed. Sniff!

Never been in a Starbucks, a Disney park or a Walmart. Bliss.

Owl - I've never once watched a single epsiode of Survivor, The Mole, The Amazing Race,or Dancing with the Stars. I know what you mean!

I tried a sample at my local Starbucks, and it tastes like chocolate covered pretzels that have been drizzled with caramel. Interesting in the sample, but I don't know about a whole giant cupful.

Pasta Vision? Is that like beer goggles?

Pasta Vision ... every now and again I wonder if there isn't a secret society of engineers who bet on who can make up the silliest things that a human being would buy. That leads to my question: if such activity exists, is Pasta Vision a winner or a loser??

I was in a Starbucks once, about 8 years ago. I was lured by a poster for caramel something. (Cider, I think). It was nasty. Starbucks is dead to me.

DisneyWorld was much less schlocky than I had imagine. (You'd be frightened to know how much schlock I can imagine.) I actually enjoyed it.

Walmart is the ultimate suburbs. Far too many of my fellow-humans in a in one place, all seemingly cranky and acting out. Children screaming, "But I waaaaaaant.....!" Couples talking mean to each other over insignificsnt things.

Walmart is the ultimate in redneck brain-dead folk-at least it is down here. They come from far and wide to shop Walmart, since we've got the Super Walmarts with complete grocery stores. Their meats are all those that have the "solutions" added to them. I think the word they use is "enhanced".
People let their kids run wild, and for some reason the only people that shop there have like eight young screamers. Then there are the older folk, the ones who like to stand at the end of an aisle, blocking it, and looking down there to see if it might contain an item they want.
During Spring Break, they have literal mountainous pyramids of 12-packs of beer, I remember a Miller Lite stack at least fifteen feet high. While shopping amongst coeds in bikinis has its upside, dealing with half-drunk kids (before noon even!) is a bit much.

I do visit there every once in awhile, but never during tourist season if I can help it. They've got good deals on computer stuff and printer ink.

I got a neat beach cruiser bicycle there.

end of rant.

Lansdowne now has a Super WalMart, and my hubby and I joke that we need to pull some teeth, get a tattoo, and wear wife beater shirts before we go, so that we fit in.
We don't mind you, we just joke about it.

I go to Starbucks regularly, because they are America's wi-fi hotspot.

If it's early morning, I drink hot green tea. If it's later, I drink iced green tea.

None of the rest of it makes any sense to me. Maybe if I spoke Latin...

If you want something that's really good for Salted Caramel get Hagan Daz Salted Caramel ice cream. DELICIOUS

And the starbucks Salted Caramel is tastey but not as good at the Chantico they used to have. That was a Damn good Hot chocolate a dare I say drinking chocolate.

Seriously people shouldn't lump Starbucks in with Walmart, Starbucks at least takes care of their people. They provide good health coverage and inexpensively which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of companies out there. The Bucks keeps many a friend of mine in their desperately needed psych meds.

I drink my coffee black, so I'm off little use here in terms of personal experience. Various friends and acquaintances however seem to think this is the second coming of coffeedom.

I tried this yesterday at the Starbucks at the shopping center next to Well's.

I actually liked it way too much!!

Point well taken, Francesca. I try to avoid Walmart, Sam's Club, etc. until they reform the way they treat their employees. I think they have been taking some baby steps in the right direction.

I have had the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate a few times and wrote about it the first time I saw it ( At first I also thought it may be too sweet or something. But once I have had it a few times I was pleased. I have been craving Hot Chocolate a lot. That would be a great top 10- best places for fresh Hot Chocolate or other winter drinks

No matter what your political views are Walmart has many Americans over a financial barrel. When their prices are truly up to half off of what you spend in the grocery store, you are going to think real hard about buying stuff in walmart, rednecks, politics and all.

Starbucks, no barrel. Their prices are high, their product not so great, and their are other places that make designer coffee drinks around and about.

Disney World - bliss. Do not judge if you haven't been. Especially if you have kids. Another place that provides decent benefits, wages and perks to employees. They also do many Internships and Externships from area colleges (what is the difference between Interns and Externs anyway?)

If you want to learn how to run a business in a way that satisfies customers, go spend a couple days at Disneyland.

It is not by accident that it is the Happiest Place On Earth.

I refuse to shop at WalMart because of how they treat their employees, and, yes, Starbucks treats their employees better than WalMart (although not as well as they used to), but Starbucks has been pulling some nasty games with coffee growers the past few years. They used to be ethical. My introduction to good specialty coffee was Starbucks. But now, they are selling robusta, paying farmers less than market rate and buying substandard specialty coffees.

I used to defend Starbucks from other coffee snobs. Now I sigh, and go anywhere else, if possible.

Susan WSNAJ, my DW and I have been to the Lansdown Super WalMart, but we're so old we don't really care what we look like so we don't have to dress up. And we try not to stand at the ends of the aisles, except when the crush of people standing in them and lookingat every item makes it impossible to move.

Susan, I hope to see you sign in as Susan WNHAJ, and soon.

Oh, that salted caramel hot chocolate is quite good.

The sweet and salty flavor combo is one of the best out there, which is why the Frango Mints that Marshall Fields (now Macy's) sells are so popular.

For that sweet & salty fix, I got this from Ina Garten. It's going in my holiday baskets.

Fleur De Sel Caramels
Recipe By: Ina Garten
Published in: Back To Basics


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel -- plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan (or loaf pan) with parchment paper, then brush the paper lightly with oil, allowing the paper to drape over 2 sides.
In a deep saucepan (6 inches diameter by 4 1/2 inches deep) combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the caramel is a warm golden brown color. Don't stir - just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly at the end!

In the meantime, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon fleur de sel to a simmer in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, set aside and keep warm.
When the caramelized sugar is the right color, slowly add the cream mixture to the caramel - it will boil up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it's hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate until firm.

When the caramels are cool, use the parchment paper to pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Starting at 1 end, roll the caramel up tightly until you've rolled up half of the sheet. Cut the sheet across and then roll the second half tightly. You will have 2 (1 by 8-inch) logs. Sprinkle both logs lightly with fleur de sel, cut each log in 8 pieces. Cut parchment papers in 6 by 4 1/2-inch squares and wrap each caramel in a paper, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

What the hell is/are Fleur De Sel?

What the hell is/are Fleur De Sel?

Eve -- it's sea salt for yuppies.


Apparently, sea salt.

I gained 10 lbs just reading that recipe.

From yesterday's Social Q's column, in the Sunday Times:

"...experience teaches us that we should lay off our friends’ spouses, children and favorite reality programs."

The Amazing Race is awesome.

What the hell is/are Fleur De Sel?
Eve -- it's sea salt for yuppies.


omg wrote: Barbarians.

Well, Slate did a taste test of various salts, and good old Morton Kosher Salt did surprisingly well against the fleur de sel offerings, and for a far cheaper cost.

Good Lord! I never thought that salt would be too frou-frou!!

Frou frou or true true? It's amazing that unprocessed sea salt is considered weird. Stripping salt of all trace minerals and adding chemicals to bleach and color salt and chemicals to keep it from caking, yeah that's normal. Rock on Velveeta Nation! If you can't taste the difference between table salt and grey sea salt, including fleur de sel, then you have no palate at all. Good day sirs. I said good day.

I read the wikipedia article about the fleur de sel, and it notes that the Portuguese version (flor de sal) is pure white and much cheaper.

I try not to add much salt to my food, keeps the blood pressure in check.

oops, sorry I didn't realize hmpstd's post had the same link as the one I just posted.

For my sweet-n-salty fix, some dark chocolate covered pretzels are quite tasty.

Eve, you are clearly behind in reading the more lah-di-dah food magazines! Salt snobbery is rampant.

hmpstd, you completely misrepresent the Slate taste test. On the most basic test, just tasting it on your finger, Morton's came in fifth out of eight. That's not what I would call surprisingly well. The top sea salt scored 41% higher on their taste scale. Scoring 5.75 on a scale of one to ten is not really a good score.

Maldon 8.13
M. Gilles Hervy Fleur de Sel 8.00
Big Tree Farms 6.75
Camargue Fleur de Sel 6.63
Morton Kosher 5.75
Rayida 5.50
La Baleine 4.25
Iodized Diamond 3.50

Most people use fleur de sel as a finishing salt, not something you would add to pasta sauce. I use regular sea salt which is about $1.25 a pound. Just to let you know, Bourbon Girl already makes fun of my very specific food and beverage ingredients and techniques.

After bottled water got popular, nothing surprises me.

Salt Snobbery?

jeez, what is the lowly black pepper to do?

Anyone have any good recipes for quinoa? (Perhaps a future Top Ten item?) I'm getting ready to cook up a batch, and saute-ing peppers and spices to throw in is starting to get old.

(flor de sal) is pure white and much cheaper.

People, people, why can't we accept all kinds of salt no matter what its color?

I have a salty dream that one day the Portuguese salt and the French salt and Jewish salt and even the lowly Iodinese salt will come together in our kitchens equal in the Eye of the Stove, each to fullfill its God given purpose - to season our food! I have a dream.

jeez, what is the lowly black pepper to do?

I have three kinds of black pepper in my kitchen at the moment, three kinds of white pepper and green peppercorns that I ground myself. I only wish I had the wet green peppercorns in a jar. They are the best to cook with.

For a moment I thought you were a Penn State grad. :-) EL

Owl Meat, you've conveniently omitted the fact that Slate did five different tests, not just the one test you've selectively pulled out of the hat. (And who goes to a restaurant to eat salt off their finger, anyway?) Morton Kosher Salt was third overall, ahead of, er, umm, Camargue Fleur de Sel. For the two "West Coast" tests (french fries and steaks), Morton also beat, umm, er, M. Gilles Hervy Fleur de Sel.

Penzey's is wonderful! I now have two kinds of cinnamon (ok, one is technically cassia), 3 kinds of salt, real wasabi, 8 kinds of hot peppers and 5 kinds of peppercorns.

Of course, I've also got about 14 kinds of green coffee beans in stock and a bunch of jars and cans with labels in languages I can't speak. I have no idea what I was going to do with pommegranite molassas.

Owl Meat, you've conveniently omitted the fact that Slate did five different tests

Statistics is fun, isn't it? I chose the only important one. :)

The others weren't relevant. I only care how my finger tastes. It's a new diet called the Digital Diet.

Just because there are numbers doesn't mean it is in any way scientific.

Hey Lissa, I almost ordered the pomegranate molasses myself.

For a moment I thought you were a Penn State grad. :-) EL

I don't get it

Sorry. Bad joke. Penn State remains undefeated even though Joe Paterno...oh, never mind. Go Penzey! EL

It probably wouldn't be fun to say that Penzey's is a Wisconsin company, so they probably are all about the Badgers.

lowly Iodinese salt

My mother grew up in a southern, landlocked state where many people she knew had goiters because they didn't get enough iodine. Iodized salt is a health food in our family.

Eve, you are clearly behind in reading the more lah-di-dah food magazines!

I've never read a food magazine. I do have a black pepper grinder. That's as lah-di-dah as I can stand to be.

I also was intrigued by the Salty Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks when my mother mentioned but only because I am an advocate of anything salty and caramel, thanks to Jeni in Columbus, Ohio.

If you haven't heard of her:
She makes the absolute best ice cream in the world and it is seriously probably the thing I miss the most since moving back to Maryland from Columbus. Anyway, maybe you should do a feature on Top 10 most unusual but delicious places to eat in Baltimore.

I will have to try the salty caramel hot chocolate soon, but only when I'm having a bad day and missing the gray cloudy skies of Columbus.

Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that.

Homer Simpson

By the way, you might also try just plain old chocolate chip cookies with the little carmel nips that Kraft makes by the bag and, just before baking, sprinkle them with a little dusting of salt.


He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts - for support rather than for illumination. ~Andrew Lang

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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