The Aztecs, inventors of hot chocolate, commonly added chiles to their brew; this version uses cayenne.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream and 1 Tbs. sugar with an electric hand mixer on medium speed to medium-soft peaks. Refrigerate while making the cocoa.
Put the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cocoa powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt in a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the remaining milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the chocolate and cayenne and reduce the heat to low. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is a little frothy, 1 minute. Add more cayenne to taste, if you like.
Divide the hot chocolate among 6 mugs and top each with a dollop of the whipped cream. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and smoked paprika on the whipped cream and serve.
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Scott Phillips