Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.
– JK Rowling
As much as I love spring and summer, there is just something enchanting about Autumn and Winter flavours, smells, colours and holidays. I love the look, taste, and smell of everything these two season have to offer: warm fragrant soups, pumpkin pies, apple tarts, oranges stuffed with cloves, hot minty chocolate, and hot apple cider — to mention just a few.
The first time I ever had apple cider was at my first Thanksgiving in America as an adult (way back in 2001!). I was confused. I didn’t understand how it could be cider as there was no alcohol! Eventually I came to appreciate this kind of cider and now I really, really love all the flavours.
Last year, for a tea night I decided I wanted to make American apple cider, however, most recipes I saw called for pre-made cider. I didn’t understand why, when surely you could just use apples to make the cider? After a little digging I found two recipes I liked that used actual apples rather than pre-made cider. I liked these recipes so much I made cider around 5 or 6 times in the space of about a month! Since then, inspired by these two recipes (links below), I’ve come up with my own version, which I hope you will appreciate!
The addition of the dark rum gives a subtle edge that helps to trim out any excessive sweetness from the cider. As for the cider itself, coming home to the aroma of Christmas permeating the air is enough to put me in an excellent mood. If you don’t like Christmassy smelling things, this recipe may not be for you…but I dare you to give it a try! This recipe is a good choice whether you are using it on a random Autumn night or for a big holiday like Christmas or Hallowe’en. It also works well at a Christmas brunch or as an apéritif as it can easily be doubled. Best of all, the recipe takes no time at all to pull together!
Slightly Boozy Hot Apple Cider
(adapted from Pursuit of Hippieness and Baker Bettie)
- 4-6 large red apples, peels intact*
- 2 cinnamon sticks (the fatter the better!)
- ½ tbsp whole cloves
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp ginger
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- Water to cover
- 5 tbsp dark rum**
- Cinnamon sticks for decoration (optional)
- Wash, core and quarter (or chop into large chunks) the apples. Add to the slow cooker.
- Add the spices and sugar and then pour in just enough water to cover the apples. Place the lid on top.
- Cook on high for a minimum of 12 hours. I think 12-15 hours is best as it leaves a richer flavour.
- One cooked, adjust the temperature to “warm” and strain the cider through a fine-mesh sieve using a potato masher. Now add the rum. Stir until mixed. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick.
- If you want, reserve the sieved apple and you could make the apple butter as suggested by Pursuit of Hippieness. I’ve only ever done this one time but it was pretty good. Just remember to add some fresh apples.
*If you want a sweeter cider use 4 large apples, for a slightly less sweet cider use 6.
**I used Bacardi 151 which is not available in all countries due to the amount of alcohol in it. Just substitute another rum as required.
Make ahead: Alternatively, you could pour the sieved cider into a large pot and set aside. When ready to use, keep on a low heat and once warm add the rum, stirring frequently. Serve as suggested above.
Make it your own: You could add an extra tbsp or two of rum, or let people add some to their own mugs as per their personal tastes. You could also experiment with different apples. You could also peel the apples if you wanted but I think the colour is deeper and nicer with them and they only improve the flavour.
Non-alcoholic version: Leave out the rum! I’d also suggest that you use the 6 apples, too.
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