It might be early in the season for hot chocolate but here in Washington the night's dip to really cold temperatures and hot chocolate becomes the perfect evening treat (especially with some homemade bread). We were big on the instant hot chocolate because it was easy, then my father suggested I make some from scratch (he stopped buying instant because it was going too fast).
This recipe is adapted from the Hershey cocoa powder box and is just as easy as making instant except I haven't come up with a microwave version. It cooks on the stove but only takes as much time as it takes to heat the milk.
1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk
3/4 teas vanilla
Pour milk into saucepan. Add cocoa and sugar. Stir with a whisk. The cocoa will float on the top of the milk until it heats up a little but this is not a problem, just keep whisking now and again until it all combines. Stir occasionally but do not leave unattended. Do not let the milk come to a boil. When hot, remove from heat and add vanilla. Whisk quickly and serve.
Great with whipped cream or marshmallows. (if serving with marshmallows and you like them melty, heat the milk up hotter than drinkable and let cool with marshmallows on top).
For a kick, add a little cayenne pepper.