Pro Tip #1 - What you make it with makes it
(I call it a Pro Tip not because I'm a pro, but because that's what Home Depot calls their tips and putting Pro before Tip makes it sound much more official.)
Back to the tip. What you make hot chocolate with really makes that hot chocolate. As a kid I would warm up water in the microwave (or just pull it tepid from the faucet!), and that worked fine. But when I discovered (much too late in life) making hot chocolate with milk makes things so much better. So replace that water with milk and enjoy! Make sure not to warm it up too long, however, or it develops a strange film.
If you want to step it up one more notch, use evaporated milk. Make the serving smaller, however, because it is RICH! (Not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk, like Liz's brother....)
Pro Tip #2 - Make your own mix
We've discovered that making our own hot chocolate mix makes it much better. It's more natural (store mixes sometimes have weird stuff in them) and it tastes more fresh. Look at the end for the two recipes that Liz and I use.
Pro Tip #3 - Top it and mix it
You can spice things up by adding extras. We always like to add whipped cream. We make our own whipped cream by whipping (duh) heavy whipping cream with a small amount of sugar, using a hand mixer and pre-cooled beaters and bowl.
It gets even better when you add a bit of spice on top of the whipped cream. Cinnamon is always a classic and a safe bet. Nutmeg adds a spicy (not hot) sweet side. I sometimes like to add a touch of Cayenne Pepper to give it just the tiniest kick (sometimes referred to as Mexican hot chocolate).
You can experiment and discover what you like.
Pro Tip #4 - Tiny cups somehow mean more
I've recently discovered that sipping hot chocolate from a tiny little tea cup makes it even better. Savor every little sip and imagine you're wearing a monocle and discussing British politics.
That's how Liz and I like to do it! I'd love to hear if anyone likes to do it differently or if anyone has favorite desserts they love to eat!
MIKE AND LIZ'S HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPES
Stovetop Hot Chocolate:
2 - 2.5 cups milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
1 oz. chocolate, chopped (we often use chocolate chips, because we always have them on hand, but keep in mind that chocolate chips aren't great for melting, because they usually contain anti-clumping ingredients that don't emulsify well (as an aside, the same is true for pre-shredded cheese), so if you have regular chocolate (i.e. baking chocolate - we recommend Ghirardelli 60% cacao), that's ideal)
Heat the milk over medium heat in a saucepan. Do not let it boil. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. When the milk is heated to your liking, add the cocoa mixture and mix well. Serve with desired toppings and mix-ins. Serves 2-3.
Instant Hot Cocoa Mix
1/2 cup powdered milk, sifted
2-3 cups (to taste) cocoa powder, sifted
3-4 cups (to taste) powdered sugar
Combine ingredients in a bowl with a lid and mix well. Store in airtight container at room temperature. When ready to make hot chocolate, mix 3-4 Tbsp. (to taste) of powdered mix into 1 cup warm/hot milk.