Try adding this instead of sugar to your hot chocolate

Permit us to risk sounding like the beginning of a rom-com slated for a late November release. Hot chocolate season smells like wool scarves and mittens, like nutmeg and cinnamon, and like warm ovens filled with the first batch of holiday cookies. When you pour your first hot chocolate, it sounds like a laugh coming in from the crisp outdoors, and ending on a blanket-laden sofa: caught between air pregnant with the first snow and the slightly smokey warmth of a recently lit woodfire. When you sip your first hot cocoa, it tastes like a sweet goodbye to the last autumn leaves: rich and decadent, slightly bitter, wonderfully but not overly sweet, and, at its best, a little bit woodsy.   

The last of these taste profiles is the hardest to achieve. Add sugar to your hot chocolate, or use a pre-packaged mix, and it's likely to escape you. To get it right, you'll need to make your hot cocoa from scratch and to add an alternative sweetener. We have two words for you: maple syrup. 

How to make the prefect maple syrup hot chocolate

Experiment with proportions if you'd like. Add a bit of peanut butter to your cocoa, if you're adventurous. Celeb chef and Queen of Comfort Food Ina Garten uses a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and instant espresso powder in hers (via Food Network). Rachael Ray shared a recipe on the Food Network which recommends preparing hot chocolate with the help of a crushed toffee bar. Get creative. There are as many ways to a satisfying cup of hot cocoa as there are to (excuse the rom-com rhetoric) a good date. 

Promise us one thing. Never compromise on the maple syrup. To achieve the perfect maple cocoa, Allrecipes suggests one tablespoon of maple syrup per one cup whole milk. To ensure your flavors mix correctly, combine the maple syrup with your cocoa powder and whatever other spices you may want to use (vanilla, for example) in your cup first. Then, pour in a third of the milk you're going to use to make a thick, spicey, chocolatey mix. Mix until well combined. Pour in the rest of your hot milk. Top with whipped cream, if you're feeling decadent. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.