Spiced (& Spiked) Mulled Cider

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Sacreligiously, I've never been too keen on mulled wine. I always find that people shy away from adding too much sugar, so you wind up with a bitter, rapidly cooling glass of woody spices and tannin. On the other hand, mulled cider is a whole other ball game: to my mind there is nothing so perfect on a cold winter's night. 

This is my take on the classic 'throw everything in the pan and hope for the best approach'. Don't leave out the fruit juices! It's these that add the touch of sweetness you need. I like to spike mine with apple brandy too, but it works equally well as a non-alcoholic drink. Just leave out the brandy and replace the cider with good quality apple juice.

Spiced (& spiked) mulled cider

Serves 8

1 litre good quality apple cider

½ cup Calvados or other apple brandy

1 large orange, juiced

1 lemon, juiced

1 apple, sliced across the core

Mix of whole spices such as star anise, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods

  1. Put the cider into a large pan and heat gently for a couple of minutes
  2. Add the brandy, fruit juices, whole spices and apple slices and leave over a low simmer to steep. You shouldn’t see any bubbles - that would mean you’re boiling off the alcohol (very much the opposite point of the exercise!)
  3. Give it a taste and add a spoonful of sugar if you think it needs it. It should be pleasantly sweet, not cloying
  4. Serve in warmed mugs, garnished with dried apple slices

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