1. For the hot chocolate syrup: Bring the maple syrup and hot chocolate mix to a simmer, whisking constantly, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.
2. For the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, hot chocolate mix, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl. Pour the milk-egg mixture into the flour mixture, and gently fold just to combine (it's OK if there are some lumps).
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter; when it melts and the foam subsides, pour 1/4-cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, evenly spaced. Cook until the surface of the pancakes begins to bubble and the bottoms have darkened by a few shades, about 4 minutes. Flip the pancakes, and continue to cook until the bottoms have darkened by a few shades and the pancakes are springy when touched in the center, about 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. (Keep cooked pancakes warm in a low oven.) Serve with the hot chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
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