I know I've just said how much I favor caramel to chocolate. There are certain times when chocolate just trumps caramel: eating dipped fruit without getting too messy, caramel-chip muffins wouldn't work, and of course, hot chocolate. There's nothing that caramel has in her arsenal that can compare to the comforting, familiar, soul-warming drink that is hot chocolate. It's like a hug in a cup. For me, it was whole milk and Hershey's syrup heated in the microwave just long enough to form a skin. I don't have a lot of great childhood memories with my dad, but this I remember fondly. Sometimes on Sunday mornings he and my mom would be watching some Sunday morning news program. I would head out in my PJ's and mimic the opening credits where they showed the Statue of Liberty and my dad would jokingly try to get me to stop (I cannot remember at all why that drove him crazy... just putting my arm up and pretending to be Lady Liberty would drive him into a jokingly frustrated and annoyed fit). Then sometimes during a commercial break, if I asked nicely, he would make me hot chocolate. It's always better when someone else makes it, isn't it?
Since then, my palate has changed and I prefer making hot cocoa from scratch over the stove, adding flavors like my beloved caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, mint, toasted marshmallow syrup (thanks Devin!), vanilla, or almond. I always use the Hershey's cocoa recipe on the side of the box, but I use Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa. (Also, panic attack-- they changed the packaging since the last time I bought it and I couldn't remember the name offhand... I thought they stopped making it, but crisis averted!) Anyway, hot chocolate or hot cocoa is something you drink to feel nostalgic and comforted, no matter how you change how you make it over the years.
If you are REEEEEALLY old, or a historian, or a food historian, or just like interesting old-fashioned foods, I have found via cakespy a line of historically accurate drinking chocolate elixirs. From Kakawa Chocolates, this line of elixirs dates back all the way to a thousand years ago and goes up to contemporary blends. Each blend is historically accurate, therefore not as sweet as we're used to, and includes the traditional chilies, flowers, herbs, spices, and sweeteners of their time. So it's kind of like you're reminiscing over the last thousand years. My advice-- crack open an interesting history book and read about what was going on from the time from which your drink has come.
Kakawa Chocolates Contemporary Havana Rum Elixir, with chocolate, cane juice, rum, orange zest, and cinnamon; $16.95 for 3 wafers, which each make 6 oz.