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There is something comforting about a lovely cup of hot chocolate when the days are frosty. Nearly everyone has a favorite way to enjoy the sweet, hot drink from simple pre-made packets of powder to the more labor-intensive recipes done from scratch. If you are a chocolate lover, take the time to try some of these variations on an old classic.

Basic homemade hot chocolate:

1 T. cocoa powder 1 cup milk

2 T. sugar a drop or two of vanilla

2 T. water

Combine the first three ingredients to make a paste, stir in the milk. Heat slowly and add vanilla.

There are ways to spice up your basic hot chocolate as they do in Mexico and South America. You’ll find recipes using cinnamon, a pinch of chili powder or cayenne powder. You may even find a recipe using a red bell pepper! If you like your chocolate spicy, you’ll enjoy browsing through this website’s offerings.

If you like your hot chocolate with a bit of a kick you may enjoy these recipes which use various liqueurs, amaretto, peppermint schnapps, Irish crème or other yummy additions to your cup of hot cocoa.

Some prefer to whip up batches of dry powdered hot chocolate mixes to store for the winter months or to package beautifully as gifts. Here is Martha Stewart’s recipe which will make enough mix for a whopping 92 8-oz servings of hot cocoa mix. And for a variety of flavored hot chocolate mix recipes take a look here. For an old-fashioned basic recipe from the U.K. using dried vanilla beans and chunks of sweet chocolate try this recipe.

Of course you can make your hot chocolate into a mocha drink with the simple addition of espresso, or brewed coffee. Other yummy drinks include the coffee plus an ounce of Irish crème, coffee liqueur or orange liqueur.

Don’t forget to add some toppings to your drinks. Whipped cream, or whipped cream dusted with cocoa powder or chocolate curls is inviting. Or the kids’ favorite— marshmallows, make a sweet addition to the cup. Try stirring your cup with a candy cane or a cinnamon stick for more variety.

Once your drink is in hand, sit back and enjoy the rich goodness of this old-time winter favorite.