When the winds begin to howl, and Christmas music plays in the background, this is the time of year for a hot (spiked) cider drink.
Winter and Christmastime seem to call out for a hot cider drink, preferably spiked, for sipping by a fire or with a good movie, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This recipe hits all the high notes in my opinion, with cider, maple syrup, orange flavour, spices. And whiskey. What’s not to love? The orange really sets this hot cider drink apart with just the right amount of citrusy accent to give it a twist. If you are short on vanilla beans, in a pinch, you could substitute with Nielsen Massey vanilla extract, but the bean really adds a nice touch. The sweetness of the cider doesn’t really require much of the maple syrup, but by all means, include some. It does round out the taste nicely. As mentioned below, I used Canadian Club whiskey, but whatever your favourite is, certainly use it if you wish.
If you’re not familiar with Nielsen-Massey extracts and flavourings, you’re in for a treat. I have been using their vanilla for years in baking among other things, but they also make a fine line of other extracts as well. Almond and lemon are more of my favourites. Almond and cherry pie are almost indispensible in my book. They are also one of the few companies that still manufacture rose water, which I’ve used in cookies and puddings, just to name a few possibilities. So, if you are baking this Christmas, it pays to use the very best in vanilla extracts especially, as the fake stuff (artificial vanilla) just doesn’t compare. I cannot be stress this enough. Now, on to some pure sipping yumminess!
2 quarts apple cider
1/2 cup 100% pure pomegranate juice
1/3 cup 100% pure maple syrup (adjust maple syrup if cider is already sweet)
1 Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract
3 large cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
5 whole allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2/3 cup whiskey (I used Canadian Club)
1 large Gala apple, thinly sliced (garnish)
Add apple cider, pomegranate juice and maple syrup to a large saucepan; heat over medium-high heat. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise with the tip of a small knife. Scrape both sides of the bean with the knife’s dull side and add the seeds and bean to the saucepan.
Add the orange extract, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries and cardamom seeds to the saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Strain mulled cider through a fine mesh sieve. Add whiskey; stir to combine. Serve with a fresh apple slice. (I might be inclined to use a cinnamon stick too.)
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Inc. http://www.nielsenmassey.com/culinary/about-nielsen-massey-vanillas.php Last accessed November 25, 2016. They have a whole section of recipes on this website, it’s fabulous.
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