Crazy for Cocoa?

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing like a steaming mug of cocoa to warm you up and lift any winter blahs. For a real treat, give the classic homemade version a try. Start by heating four cups of milk (whole milk, skim, or try almond milk) in a saucepan, then whisk in 10 ounces of your favorite sweetened chocolate baking bar, cut into small pieces (chocolate chips work, too). When the chocolate melts, pour into four mugs and serve.

Once you’ve mastered the classic version, kick it up with different flavors.

• Stir a half teaspoon of vanilla extract or a tablespoon of a chocolate-hazelnut spread into the pot.

• Like mint? Place a candy cane in each mug as a stirrer.

• Sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a dash of ground nutmeg—both of which are loaded with health-protective antioxidants—into your mug.

• Perk up the flavor (and your brain) by adding a shot of espresso.

• Keep your eye out for bakeries that sell flavored gourmet marshmallows for a flashy, yummy finishing touch.

Sounds good, right? Just be sure to enjoy it in your cup, not on your shirt. If you do spill your cocoa, simply rinse the stain in cold water as soon as possible, then pour liquid laundry detergent directly on the stain and let it set for 20 minutes. Afterwards, wash the garment in warm water with liquid laundry detergent. Taking your cocoa to go in a thermos? Tuck a stain remover in your bag, to be safe. Before treating any garment, refer to the instructions on the care label. Always test the solution on a hidden area first. If treating washable silk or wool, follow basic instructions, but hand wash.