Recipe: Mulled Spices for Winter Cider

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Mulled Spices for Winter Cider

8 to 12 servings

Cranberry juice adds a seasonal touch to this spicy, hot drink. Serve in half-pint Mason jars, topped with a slice of dried apple or a thin slice of clementine, and furnish a cinnamon stick for stirring and added spice. Mulling spices can be brewed loose (then strained for serving) in the pot that warms the apple juice; or gather the crushed spices into an extra-large tea ball and immerse it in the warming brew, removing it before serving.

For gift-giving, quadruple this mortar-and-pestle recipe and pack in a jar with serving directions, or fill large (4-by-2-inch) specialty tea filter bags (see NOTE, below), tied with kitchen twine; pack the bags in a tin or decorative box. Each sachet makes 1 batch of prepared mulled cider. Use the freshest spices you can. Adapted from cookbook author Marcy Goldman.

For the apple drink:

6 cups apple cider

1 cup unsweetened apple juice

1 cup cranberry juice (may substitute unsweetened apple juice)

For the mulling spices:

1 whole nutmeg, broken up

1 tablespoon sugar

6 whole cardamom pods

2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 tablespoon whole allspice

8 cinnamon sticks, broken up

Zest of 1 small orange or lemon (optional)

1 large vanilla bean, slit lengthwise and cut into pieces (optional)

For serving/garnishes:

Honey, slices of dried apples, slices of clementine or small orange, and cinnamon stick, for stirring

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider and juices. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the liquid begins to steam.

Meanwhile, place the nutmeg, sugar, cardamom, cloves, allspice and pieces of cinnamon stick in a large mortar. Cover the mixture loosely with a piece of waxed paper to keep the spices contained. Using the pestle, gently but firmly crush the seeds and spices to break them into finer pieces. Add the zest or vanilla bean, if using, and cover with a new sheet of waxed paper (the paper probably will have broken up). Use the pestle to crush the mixture a bit more. Remove the waxed paper and shake/shuffle the spices. Transfer to a large paper or cheesecloth tea bag and close the bag with kitchen twine. Add to the warm cider mixture and reduce the heat to low. Brew 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into individual cups and serve with garnishes alongside.

NOTE: Large T-Sac paper tea filters can be ordered online at

Per serving (based on 12): 73 calories, 0 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g saturated fat, 6 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Leslie A. Garcia; e-mail questions

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