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, 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.
Servings: 8 - 12
- 6 cups apple cider
- 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 1 cup cranberry juice (may substitute unsweetened apple juice)
- 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
- 1 small orange or lemon (zest only -- optional)
- 1 large vanilla bean, slit lengthwise and cut into pieces (optional)
- Honey, for garnish
- Slices of dried apples, for garnish
- Slices of clementine or small orange, for garnish
- Cinnamon stick, for garnish and 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.
Adapted from cookbook author Marcy Goldman.
Tested by Leslie A. Garcia.
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