Need a last minute gift idea? Mulling spices make great stocking stuffers and can usually be made entirely from ingredients already found in your spice cabinet. Don't be tricked into buying some "fancy" package of mulling spices at the store (which more often than not are ridiculously overpriced). Make it yourself! All the recipient has to do is drop the bag in a pot, add a little orange zest, and heat it up (just attach some directions to the bag so they'll know what to do).
Mulled wine and cider have always been a holiday tradition, a particular favorite at Christmas in Victorian England. There are hundreds of versions of mulled beverages in all parts of the world, so it's safe to say everyone agrees a mulled drink is a good thing!
Mulling spices aren't just limited to Christmastime, they can be enjoyed in wine and apple cider throughout the fall and winter. But I'm particularly fond of using them around Christmas. I've always liked mulling spices or homemade teas in stockings. They fill the room with smells of spicy goodness. Whether or not the recipient puts it to good use is another story, but they'd be stupid not to! Merry Christmas!
2 cinnamon sticks (I like to use Ceylon cinnamon if you can find it)
1/8 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp. whole cloves
1 tbsp. whole allspice berries
5 cardamom pods
1 star anise pod
3 1-inch x 3-inch pieces of orange peel or 2 tsp. dried orange zest
Combine all the ingredients (use dried orange zest if giving as a gift, or tell the recipient to add 3 pieces of fresh orange peel) in a spice bag and tie off (or place the ingredients on a double layer of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle using butcher's twine.
Add a 750 ml bottle of wine or a half gallon of cider and the spice bag to a large pot and heat to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and lightly simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Ladle the mulled beverage into mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick and piece of orange peel and enjoy!
- If you prefer slightly sweeter mulled wine, add 1/2 cup sugar to the pot.