A simple stove-top hot chocolate, sweetened with maple syrup.
Pour the milk into a Dutch oven, followed by the remaining ingredients: maple syrup, cacao powder, vanilla, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together. The cacao powder won't fully dissolve in the milk just yet; it's okay.
Warm the mixture over medium heat on the stove-top, whisking every couple of minutes to fully dissolve the cacao powder in the milk. Once fully dissolved and warm (or to your desired temperature), turn off the heat.
Ladle the hot chocolate into mugs. Enjoy warm.
*It's really easy to tweak this recipe to your desired sweetness. I've found that a minimal amount of maple syrup is perfect for our family since we usually add sweet marshmallows or whipped cream to our hot chocolate. If you'd like a sweeter hot chocolate, simply increase the maple syrup (tasting as you go). The amount of sweetener needed may depend on the milk. Another option is to stir in a few tablespoons of chocolate chips (which most likely are sweetened) to increase the rich chocolate flavor and sweetness. If you'd like to add a different twist to this drink, try adding a couple pinches of cinnamon. There are lots of possibilities for customizing this hot chocolate to your liking.
This recipe may also be reduced, if needed.