When it comes to popular winter drinks, there's nothing like a cup of sweet, piping hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate comes in many flavors and fans of the decadent drink often add a variety of embellishments to the beverage.

There are various styles and flavors of hot chocolate, depending on what form and style of chocolate is used.

Restaurants, bakeries and other eateries often place hot chocolate on their menus during the winter months. The delicious drink can be found everywhere from chain restaurants to chef-owned eateries and cafes.

At Gayety's Chocolates and Ice Cream, customers will find a signature hot chocolate on the menu.

"We've had hot chocolate since Day 1," said Jim Flessor, owner of Gayety's. Flessor said they use their own chocolate for the creation. Gayety's has had a long history in the Chicago area. The ice cream/chocolate business opened in 1920 in the city's South Chicago neighborhood.

"Hot chocolate is completely addictive," said Flessor. Gayety's hot chocolate is available in a 10-ounce cup and can be enjoyed at the shop or to go.

Assorted Mexican restaurants in the area feature the Mexican style of hot chocolate, which has a different consistency and flavor from the usual style of hot chocolate. It's usually made with real Mexican chocolate.

According to ixtapacantina.com, "Mexican Chocolate has a distinctive, rich flavor that can be used in regular dishes or baking. It can come in a round and flat disk, scented with cinnamon. Mexican Chocolate can also come in bars, powders or syrups. Its rich taste is profound in beverages such as hot chocolate. Mexican Chocolate’s sweetness comes from its savory ingredients and cream finish."

Celebrated pastry chef, Alain Roby, who was awarded Pastry Chef of the Year in 2013 by the Chicago Culinary ,has long created award-winning recipes with chocolate.

Roby, who is the owner of the All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, Illinois, has come up with a special Grand Cru Hot Chocolate at his eatery. The Grand Cru is served in an 8-ounce cup with fresh whipped cream on top.

At IHOP locations and Starbucks locations around the country, diners will find various flavored hot chocolates. IHOP currently has a French Toast-flavored creation while Starbucks features concoctions such as Snickerdoodle, Peppermint, and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, among others.

For hot chocolate fans who'd like to make their own creation, try this recipe.

Hot Chocolate with Salted Whipped Mascarpone

For Salted Whipped Mascarpone:

3/4 cup (6 ounces) Wisconsin mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

Flaky sea salt

For Hot Chocolate:

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2-1 tablespoon instant coffee, to taste

Pinch of kosher salt

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

2-4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

DIRECTIONS:

For whipped mascarpone:

1. Add mascarpone and heavy cream to a mixing bowl. With electric mixer, beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in honey, vanilla and salt until just combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For hot chocolate:

1. In small bowl, mix together cocoa powder, sugar, instant coffee and salt. Heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add milk and heavy cream. Bring to simmer, stirring every few minutes. Sprinkle dry chocolate mixture over hot milk, turning heat down to low. Whisk continuously until smooth (do not let it boil), then whisk in chopped chocolate and vanilla extract.

2. Pour hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped mascarpone.

From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Looking for a place to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate? Try these spots.

Gayety's Chocolates and Ice Cream, 3306 Ridge Road, Lansing, Illinois, (800) 491-0755 or 36 U.S. 41, Schererville, (219) 515-2027

All Chocolate Kitchen,  33 S. Third Street, Geneva, Illinois (630) 232-2395

El Taco Real, 935 Hoffman St., Hammond, (219) 932-8333

Casa Blanca, 4616 Indianapolis Boulevard, East Chicago, (219) 397-4151

IHOP, various locations, ihop.com

Starbucks, various locations, starbucks.com

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Eloise writes about food and entertainment for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight children in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.