This recipe comes from one of my favorite Christmas cookbooks, Williams Sonoma Christmas. Even if you aren't a cider drinker, this will make your entire house smell heavenly! I've made this a couple times this year already and will be making it again on Christmas Day, but this is a wonderful drink for any gathering-New Year's, a skating or sledding party, or just because it's so good!
Hot Spiced Cider
8 whole cloves
8 cups apple juice (I use apple cider)
zest of 1 lemon
2 T. fresh lemon juice
cinnamon sticks (for recipe and for garnishing)
Cut zest from 3/4 of he orange and set aside. Cut the orange into quarters so that one quarter contains all the intact zest. Insert the cloves into the skin of the quarter that still has zest and put it in a large, non-aluminum saucepan. Squeeze the juice from the remaining orange quarters into the pan. Add the cider, reserved orange zest, lemon zest and juice and cinnamon stick and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the cider and ladle into cups. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and serve warm. Makes 8-10 servings.
I always double this recipe and make it in the crockpot so it can simmer all day and make that wonderful smell. I also put the cloves in the orange before I cut it, it's easier (and since I double the recipe I usually put the cloves into a small orange with both ends cut off).
For an adult gathering, I set out spiced rum and Cinnamon Schnapps for people to add if they'd like. I love it with the spiced rum!