We’ve had rather spring-like weather lately, but today was much cooler, wet, and windy. After walking two golden retrievers, I found myself in the mood for a cup of hot chocolate. Rather than pay Starbucks for it, I thought I’d rummage through my friend Court’s cabinets and just improvise.
Here’s my “recipe”:

1 mug of milk (I’d have used whole, but she drinks skim. I think her mugs hold about ten ounces.)
1 tablespoon cocoa (unsweetened; the kind used for baking)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso granules
2 drops pure vanilla extract
a liberal dash of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
a small dash of cayenne pepper (this is the secret ingredient in what is commonly known as “Mexican Hot Chocolate”)
1 teaspoon honey

Pour milk in a saucepan, heat on medium heat. Add all other ingredients except honey; whisk rapidly until milk foams to the top of the saucepan (careful not to let it boil over!). Turn off heat and let settle, still whisking. Pour into mug. Drizzle in honey; whisk in mug until frothy. Enjoy!
(Makes one serving, obviously.)

Note: I realize that most people don’t own 1/8 teaspoons. In that case, you can either “guestimate”, use a 1/4 spoon half-full, or double the recipe and share with a friend! Oh, and if you don’t have instant espresso on hand, regular instant coffee will do, or you can leave it out alltogether. Just note that regular coffee grounds won’t dissolve, so if you want to try using those, you’ll need to strain the cocoa into the mug (or end up with grounds at the bottom of your cup).