If like much of the United States right now, you’re experiencing bitter cold and negative wind chills then this drink is what Santa ordered! Here in Chicago, we started this morning at 0 degrees and negative wind chills. Warm drinks in this kind of a weather (without alcohol!) are great to both hydrate the body and comfort the spirit. But it’s the holidays so we’re going to brew up a batch of spiced hot apple cider and give you the option to spike it as well.

This drink is very smooth on the tongue and pleasing to the palate. Drinking spiced (and spiked!) hot apple cider is kind of like giving yourself a hug from the inside. It’s a perfect night cap to prepare you for an evening of holiday dreams. And remember if you want to make a batch for the entire family including the kids, just do so without the peppercorns and the brandy!

Spiced Hot Apple Cider

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
10 black peppercorns
8 whole allspice berries
5 whole cloves
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
6 cups apple cider
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brandy

Instructions

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and cinnamon sticks.

Cook for 1 minute. Add apple cider, honey and vanilla. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 15 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in brandy. Strain; discard solids. Serve immediately.

Notes

Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe, 2009.

http://bakedchicago.com/spiced-hot-apple-cider/