3 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves, or more
35 allspice berries, or more
2 star anise
1 medium orange
1. Coarsely crush the spices and peel the orange. Half should do.
2. In a saucepan, combine the cider and the spices. Bring to an almost boil and reduce heat to a low.
5. Add brown sugar and/or apple brandy, to taste
This is my standard mulling recipe--granted the spice quantities will change depending on what is available or where my interests take me. Ginger would make an interesting addition or even some nutmeg, black pepper, or toasted fennel seeds. Using a Chinese five-spice blend would takethe drink in an interesting, albeit different direction. Also any citrus can be used. In fact, though I usually use an orange, in a pinch lemon peel or even grapefruit peel could work. The citrus contributes a certain brightness that contrasts the more earthy, dried spices.
As two cups of mulled cider was more than enough, I decided to make a syrup out of the excess. As the cider was already warm, this was extremely easy as well. Of course mulled cider syrup could just as easily be made separately. On a lark, I added molasses and brown sugar to provide an extra funkiness and depth. Even without these additions, this tasty syrup will work as well in cocktails as on pancakes, in oatmeal or even in tea. The spices aren't necessary either. A simple cider syrup is delicious on its own.
Mulled Cider Syrup
1 cup strained, mulled cider
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
Combine ingredients in a pan over low heat, stirring until sugar is completely incorporated. After letting the syrup cool, bottle and add 1 ounce of vodka (optional). Refrigerate.
1 cup cider
1 cup sugar
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until fully combined (no heat needed). Bottle and add 1 ounce of vodka (optional).