Monday, January 21, 2008

A Good Sip

My apologies to those who got this post unfinished in your readers. I hit "publish" instead of "draft" a couple of days ago. Anyway, it's freezing in Chicago and sometimes you need something to soften the chill. I've been knocking these (mostly the cider) back all weekend.

Mulled Cider

This is a little on the nontraditional side, but experimentation is good sometimes. Start with some apple cider. Put it in a slow-cooker or in a pot. Add whole spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice. If you want to be fancy, add some orange peel or orange juice. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Be mindful if you simmer for more than 20 minutes because the cinnamon will get hotter as time goes on.
It's best if you use a tea infuser for the spices. This way you don't have to fish them out when you're ready to serve. Tea infusers come in all sizes. This is my baby one -- it's shaped like an acorn. Isn't it cute??
Now for the good part. Pour into Irish coffee glasses or mugs. Add a splash of cranberry juice. (If you want more cranberry flavor, add a generous amount to the pot and mull it with the cider.) Add a cinnamon stick for garnish. For the grown folks, the tradition is brandy. I prefer cognac. The apple works so well to bring out the cognac's complex flavors. Just a teaspoon or two really enhances the flavor of the drink. I haven't tried it, but cinnamon schnapps might be good too.

Hot Cocoa

I have made traditional hot cocoa and hot chocolate. What I prefer is a mix of both. I like the body of hot chocolate, but I'm not a fan of it's richness. Melted chocolate and cream? Yes you are drinking ganache. That's too much for even me.

This recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

Mix 1 1/2 Tbs cocoa (Dutch-processed please) and 1 Tbs sugar with 1/4 C water and a pinch of salt over low heat to bloom the cocoa. This is key to getting maximum flavor. Cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk constantly. Add 1/2 C milk. I use Splenda instead of sugar.

Mix 1 oz of shaved bittersweet chocolate with 1/4 C cream or half and half. (I use 1% milk in the step above, so I typically add cream) Microwave on low power, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted. Okay so clearly I wasn't paying attention when I measured the cream!Add the chocolate mixture to the saucepan. Mix well. Heat through.

Here comes my favorite part: pour into a mug and break out the liqueur: my favorite combos is peppermint schnapps and Starbucks coffee liqueur. Other good options are cinnamon schnapps, Godiva liqueurs and Bailey's Irish Cream. You need a couple of teaspoons total for flavor. Now if you're looking to warm up from the alcohol, keep adding. Enjoy!

Tools of the trade:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

try irish cawfee