As soon as the clocks go back in October and the nights start getting dark I begin craving mulled wine. This always signals the beginning of hibernation for me, where I like nothing more than curling up on the sofa with some wine and a film. This then soon turns into mulled wine with a mince pie, then with the Christmas tree lights on and you can see how it all develops into a big glitter, fairy light, mulled wine and mince pie fest and for this I will not apologise. I would, however, say that I do get excited by Christmas a little early, again I am not going to apologise as Christmas comes only once a year after all and I feel we might as well milk it for all it is worth. My friend, Mary, loves mulled wine as much as I do but this year she is pregnant (hooray!) and therefore mulled alcohol is not really an option. So I began thinking how you could enjoy the warmth of a mulled wine without the alcohol, I also have a few Muslim friends who I feel need to get involved with the warm spiced drink (other than chai obviously). So here it is mulled apple juice – a take on mulled cider but pregnant, Muslim and children friendly.
I think the reason I love this time of year so much is that I am such a sucker for the spices, I feel like if I whack out these spices too much in the summer months it may be frowned upon (although I still do in secret). These are the spices that I find have such comforting, nostalgic qualities. They allow me to feel Christmassy on the inside without revealing that to the rest of the world (just to confirm, my decorations will not be going up until December). Having tried this, I think it would be acceptable to try everything mulled, it is so simple and tasty and doesn’t really warrant a recipe but alas you will get one anyway. This is so flexible and massively down to your own tastes. Throw some slices of of orange or apple in there if that’s what takes your fancy. If your apple juice is a little on the tart side, sweeten it up with some soft brown sugar so the lovely caramel flavours infuse. Add more or take away some of the spices to your taste, after all I hope this gives you the same homely feeling it gives me.
When the girls come over in December I will definitely be serving this along with other goodies I am sure.
Mulled Apple Juice
- 1 litre of apple juice
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch of cloves
- pinch of black peppercorns
- 1 long strip of orange skin (I use a vegetable peeler)
Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and slowly warm it through for about 20-30 minutes. Don’t let it boil and do heat it slowly to allow the flavours to infuse.