December 15, 2022
Mulled apple cider
There is something particularly magical about a warm cup of spiced alcohol at Christmas time when the weather is cold outside. When you are welcoming guests or simply curling up on the sofa to twinkling lights and a nice Christmas movie this warm hug in a cup is sure to go down a treat.
Prep. time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup water
Rind of 1 pink grapefruit
660ml apple cider
Peel of 1 clementine
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
6 whole cloves
½ teaspoon pink peppercorns (optional)
A splash of brandy
1. Start by making the syrup. Place the sugar, water and grapefruit peel in a small pan, swirl everything to combine and place on a medium heat allow to bubble away until all the sugar has dissolved. Do not mix or stir once the syrup come to a boil as this will cause the sugar to crystalize. Remove from the heat and set aside until completely cold, discard the peel and transfer to a resealable bottle.
2. In a dry clean pan toast the cinnamon, star anise and cloves tossing from time to time about 5 minutes until the spices start smoking slightly and the aromas intensify.
3. Pour the cider in a cold pan together with the clementine peel, toasted spices and 50 ml of syrup. Place the pot on a low heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, paying attention to not let it boil.
4. Turn off the heat, add the brandy and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. Sieve the cider and discard the spices. Taste and add more syrup if you prefer.
5. To serve, pour the hot cider in heat resistant cups and garnish to your liking with orange slices and currants if using.
Store the pomegranate syrup in a well-sealed bottle in the fridge. This will keep for a number of months and makes a great addition to fruit salads or cocktails.
You could skip toasting the spices; however, I suggest you do as this will intensify the flavours.
Try not to allow the cider to boil as this will boil off the alcohol, that being said if you prefer a less potent version, boil it for a couple of minutes and omit the brandy.
This cider can be prepared in advance, allow to cool with the spices still in it and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Warm up gently in a saucepan and proceed as above.