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December always reminds me mulled wine spiced with cloves and cinnamon, and with roasted almonds that we used to buy at the Christmas Market in Cracow, where we’re from. The Market was held at the Old Town Square where the holiday atmosphere was just incredible — crispy winter frost, snow crunching under our feet, the air imbued with warm spice.
I love experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve been looking to create a recipe for a warm Christmas drink ever since we had children — something that would remind them of this special time which they wait for all year long. When I make it, the whole kitchen fills with wonderful aromas of sweet, warm apple cider and spices. The kids love it (and they’re not the only ones :)). It is pleasantly warming, aromatic, and super-easy to prepare. It’s best enjoyed in the evenings when we’re gathered in our living room, wrapped in cozy blankets, reading books or watching our favorite movies.
4 cups unsweetened pure pressed apple juice - see note*
10-12 whole cloves
2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks
1 star anise (1 whole pod)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
5 tbsp fresh orange juice
1. Place the apple juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, cardamom and nutmeg in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer (do not boil)
2. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 30 minutes on the lowest possible temperature
3. Add the orange juice and stir
4. Strain using a strainer or a fine-mesh sieve (keep the strained spices — see notes)
5. Serve immediately in your favorite mugs and enjoy!
• If the juice is too sweet (which often happens) add 1/2 cup of water.
• After it is cooled, it can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
• The strained spices retain their aroma and can be kept in a jar in the fridge and used again to make the next batch, only adding some more cardamom and nutmeg.
• I highly recommend using fresh, organic products for this recipe.
Wishing You the best!