Bites of History: Christmas sweets have a long history around the world _lowres

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles -- The winter holidays are the perfect time to enjoy a cup of Cinnamon Hot Chocolate.

Advocate-tested recipe

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Makes 6 cups. Recipe is by Cynthia L. Nobles. Chocolate has been around for at least 2,000 years, with Mesoamerica’s Aztecs and Mayans believing the cacao bean had magical properties. Sweetened chocolate didn’t appear until the Europeans arrived in America.

½ cup sugar

1?3 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash salt

5½ cups whole milk, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional whipped cream, cherries and cinnamon sticks for garnish

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Add 2 cups milk and whisk until cocoa and sugar are dissolved.

2. Turn on heat to medium. Whisking occasionally, bring mixture to a boil and simmer 2 minutes. Whisk in remaining milk and bring just to a boil, then immediately remove pan from heat.

3. Stir in vanilla and divide hot chocolate among mugs. Garnish with optional whipped cream, cherries and cinnamon sticks.