Christmas in January: Chai-Spiced Mulled Cranberry-Apple Juice
I have thirty-four recipes in my queue waiting for photos and write-ups. That’s a lot even for me! Many of these are very experimental and I want to play with them more before I make them public, but I also noticed a significant number of recipes from Christmas. I tend to make a very traditional (for us) menu for Thanksgiving and then let loose with Christmas and maybe even New Year’s dinners. There are some terrific recipes here that I just never got around to photographing during all the holiday fun and chaos. I even have a Bundt cake recipe from 2012 languishing there.
So, I’ve resolved to do better. That means repeating experimental recipes and perfecting them once and for all, if I can. And it means posting my Christmas recipes, even if it means posting them in January, February, March… I’m going to try to get one Christmas recipe out a month until I’ve cleared the backlog. Who knows, I might keep the series going with new recipes.
I’ve decided that I’m not really a mulled wine person. I love the spices, love a hot drink, but I think hot wine is a tiny bit bitter. Also, not everyone drinks alcoholic drinks and it’s nice to have something for everyone. So next I thought of mulled cider.
In casting about for a mulled cider recipe, I decided to use the spices one would find in chai masala for a nice change from the usual. Then, when I was at the store, I was inspired to buy cranberry-apple juice instead of apple cider. I was glad I did – the cranberry juice adds a beautiful color and complements the spices nicely.
Feel free to use different spices here. Keep in mind that the primary spices used in chai masala are ginger and cardamom, so if that’s the flavor you want, keep those. Cinnamon and cloves are also quite common in both chai masala and classic mulled cider and wine. The star anise is optional, but I love its brightness in chai masala and here. Also, feel free to spike this with a little white rum if you like.
- 2 quarts cranberry-apple juice
- 2 (2-3/4 -inch) sticks cinnamon
- A 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into thin slices (unpeeled)
- 1 heaping tablespoon whole cardamom pods
- 2 star anise
- 2 teaspoons cloves
In a large saucepan, heat almost to a boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting (if you have different-sized burners, use your smallest). Cover and heat for 30 minutes. Serve immediately. (See note)
Transfer all the ingredients to a crockpot. Heat on low for an hour or until hot. Reduce heat to medium and serve. (See note)
You can keep this warm in the crockpot all day or reheat on the stove as many times as you like, but be sure to strain the spices out after a 3 or 4 hours, or the flavors will get too strong. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.