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In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.
In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter with milk (or half-and-half). Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, just until mixture bubbles around side of pan. Add sugar-cocoa mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and sauce is smooth and slightly thickened.
Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla (or coffee crystals or espresso powder). Serve at once.