Mulling it over in Devon.

On a cold winters evening you can’t beat warming yourself up with something ‘mulled’. Your favourite tipple warmed through and spiced, a punch made with Christmas spirit and the smells of bonfire night. We drank (very good) mulled wine while attempting to peruse the Totnes Christmas market the other day. This was, incidentally, a horrible waste of time. There were so many people I couldn’t physically move for dreadlocks, soap sellers or a man with an owl. Enjoying my drink was impossible.

We made our own mulled drink to enjoy on Christmas evening sitting in front of the fire and watching Michael McIntyre shamelessly name-drop his entire audience, providing more ‘mince’ than any pie I’ve ever seen. It was funny.

I used apple juice for this recipe as one of our group doesn’t drink alcohol (whaaa?). It would be perfect with good cider. Or you can do what I did and add 50ml of Jameson’s at the end. Or both.

Mulled apple

If you use cider DO NOT let it boil or you’ll get rid of your  alcohol. Heat it at a slow simmer.

Makes 6 normal sized mugs or 3 novelty Christmas ones.

1.5 litres apple juice or good cider

2 sticks of cinnamon

8 or 9 allspice berries

8 or 9 cloves

A pinch of nutmeg

2 star anise

Peel of 1 lemon

Peel and juice of 1 Clementine

A thumb sized knob of ginger

3 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Put the juice/cider in a pan and add the syrup/honey. Start heating gently. While this is heating up add the allspice, cloves, star anise and nutmeg. Snap the cinnamon sticks in half and lob them in. Chop the ginger into a few rough sized pieces and put it in as well. Peel the lemon and Clementine into strips using a potato peeler.

I find that you end up with quite large amounts of pith on the strips and this can add a bitter taste to the drink. To remove this lay the strips of peel down with the pith facing up. Secure one end with the tip of your finger and push a sharp knife down flat onto the peel, facing away from your finger.

Push away firmly and you should be able to cut the layer of pith away leaving just the peel. Put it all in the pan with the juice and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the sweetness if you want. If you want it more gingery just squeeze the pieces like you were making tea. Sieve before serving.

Put it in a cup. Blow into the cup for a bit. Drink.

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