Add cocoa powder, sugar and salt to a small saucepan, and stir to combine.
Add 2 tbsp of cold milk, and whisk until the cocoa powder is dissolved.
Add the remaining milk to the pot. Turn the heat on to medium, and whisk to combine the ingredients.
Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer gently over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
For a mild flavour, remove from heat and serve immediately. For a stronger flavour, remove from heat and allow to cool before placing in the fridge or 1-2 hours. See notes for more details.
Garnish as desired and refrigerate unused portions promptly.
If you don't like star anise, or anything liquorice flavoured, you can omit it from the recipe.
For mildly spiced hot cocoa: don't let the mixture sit with the spices in it for more than 15-20 minutes. You can leave the mixture on the stove until ready to serve if you're only going to wait a short amount of time.
For strongly spiced hot cocoa: after simmering for 10 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and allow it cool down. Then pour the liquid into a bottle or pitcher, leaving the spices in the mixture, and set it in the fridge for an hour or two. Remove the spices and reheat before serving.
If you're going to put the hot cocoa into a thermos, remove the spices before doing so as it may end up tasting too strong by the time you get to it.
Please note that the nutritional information for this recipe is only an estimate, and has been calculated using a plugin.