I’m not a coffee or tea drinker, really, but I do like an excuse to have something different and warm to drink, especially in the fall. To me, there is something so special about the simple ritual of drinking something warm and fancy out of a pretty cup. Growing up in Michigan, a festive tradition that we never skipped was having mulled cider around the holidays (and my mother always made sure we used pretty dishes). This tradition became so important to us that when my sister got married, I gathered several beautiful, mismatched teacups from various thrift stores as a wedding present. I wanted her to remember what we learned from mom: Make something warm. Pour it into something beautiful. Sit down. You deserve it.
From Katie Brown’s Weekends and Katie Brown’s Outdoor Entertaining:
Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider
7 cups apple cider
5 cups cranberry juice
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1 bay leaf
3 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 lemon, sliced
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 inch peeled ginger root, sliced
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups brandy
½ cup Triple Sec, or other orange-flavored liqueur
1. Combine all of the ingredients except the brandy and the Triple Sec in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Lower the heat to low to just keep the cider warm. Add the brandy and the Triple Sec and strain into mugs.
Toffee and Peppermint Hot Chocolate
4 cups milk
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 bar toffee candy and peppermint candies, crushed
1. In a saucepan, combine milk, water, and sugar. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is frothy. Pour into thermos.
3. To serve, pour hot chocolate into cup and top with crushed candy.
Butterscotch Hot Chocolate
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder3. Serve to warm and happy faces.
1 ½ cup butterscotch morsels
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk.
2. When milk is hot, whisk in the cocoa powder and the butterscotch morsels.