Hot Caramel Chocolate

1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
6 milk chocolate covered round caramels (such as Rolo® candy)
Whipped cream (optional)
6 c. half-and-half, light cream or milk
Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

In large saucepan whisk together sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa powder. Whisk in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add caramels; cook and stir until melted. Stir in half-and-half; heat through, stirring occasionally. Pour into mugs. If desired top with whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder. Makes six (8 ounce) servings.