Recipe: Boozy Caramel Milkshake

updated May 29, 2019
Boozy Caramel Milkshake
A smoky homemade whiskey caramel turns this milkshake into the ultimate boozy dessert.

Makes4 (6-ounce) shakes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

At Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, the Seattle shop famous for deceivingly small chocolate cakes baked to order, it’s easy to be sidetracked by the main event. When you’re waiting in line — because yes, you’ll probably have to wait — the scent of chocolate hovers overhead like a heavy cloud. It’s easy to imagine that at any moment, the cloud will burst and Seattle’s rain will turn into hot, thick chocolate. But curb your imagination: You need to focus not just on the cakes, but also on the milkshakes, which come both straight-up and laced with (usually local) booze. Our favorite, the “Extra Dark Caramel and Rye” shake, is made with the rye caramel they make in house.

Making Hot Cakes’ best boozy shake at home requires dry-burning caramel the old-school way, which gives it an entirely different earthy flavor, with smoky nuances. True caramel is made by first caramelizing the sugar before adding any dairy. Once sugar begins to caramelize — quickly changing from clear to amber —it begins to develop the unmistakable flavor notes that differentiate it from caramels made with water. In this recipe, you’ll mix it with espresso and rye whiskey to double down on that rich and smoky flavor.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Boozy Caramel Milkshake

A smoky homemade whiskey caramel turns this milkshake into the ultimate boozy dessert.

Makes 4 (6-ounce) shakes

Nutritional Info


For the salted caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon


For the boozy shake:

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground espresso

  • 1 ounce

    rye whiskey, such as Old Overholt

  • 3 cups

    (24 ounces) vanilla ice cream, softened to soft serve consistency

  • Whipped cream


Make the salted caramel sauce:

  1. Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

  2. Meanwhile, in a heavy medium frying pan, melt the sugar over medium heat. As the sugar begins to liquefy, stir continually, as it will begin to change color and caramelize rather rapidly. (Caramelizing sugar can be dangerous, as it is very hot and can burn you easily. Please use caution and do not touch the sugar while it is cooking.) When the sugar has reached an even light-amber color, watch for a bit of smoke to rise from it — this shows the sugar is done being caramelized.

  3. Immediately add the heated cream a little at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the butter and salt. Cook while stirring constantly until it reaches 230°F. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour into jars and let sit until room temperature.

Make the boozy shake:

  1. Place 4 glasses in the freezer to chill.

  2. Blend the espresso, 1/4 cup of the salted caramel sauce, and rye whiskey together in a blender until smooth and frothy. Add the ice cream and blend until thick and creamy.

  3. Pour milkshake into the chilled glasses. Top with a generous scoop of whipped cream, drizzle with the caramel sauce, and finish with a sprinkling of ground espresso.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Refrigerate caramel sauce for up to 3 months.
  • Espresso substitute: Finely ground coffee can be substituted for the espresso. If you aren't a coffee drinker, sprinkle in some cocoa powder instead.