I know I’m guilty of blurring the edges between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but spiced apple cider is the perfect fall/winter beverage that spans the two holidays. This slow-steeped version is guaranteed to fill your living space with the smell of the season, and I can’t undergo a holiday task (defrosting the Tofurky, baking a pie, wrapping presents, etc.) without a comforting mug.
Make sure you’re using whole spices, not powdered, or you’ll end up with a tasty but oddly-textured sludge. This also works beautifully in a crockpot for a party, but you’ll miss out on some of the spicy scent in the air. I usually just let the pot cool and leave it out on the stove until I want to hear it up again, which makes cleanup minimal (always a nice thing, right?). The last cup of cider in the pot is quite sweet & spiced, so I’ll often mix it with unsweetened chai tea to balance it out.
PERFECT SPICED CIDER RECIPE
1.5 gallons apple juice or cider (I prefer Indian Summer)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. whole cloves (15-20)
2 pieces star anise
meat from one nutmeg pod (they’re usually sold whole & you’ll need to crack it open like a shelled walnut)
Optional (boozy version): 1/3 c. dark brown sugar and 3/4 c. spiced rum
1. Combine all ingredients (except sugar and rum, if applicable) in a large soup pot.
2. Heat on medium until simmering. Reduce heat to low and heat 1-1.5 hours or until volume has reduced by a fourth. Remove from heat.
3. Optional: After removing from heat, stir in brown sugar until completely dissolved. Stir in rum and serve.