I'm trying to make a concerted effort to get a wriggle on and make some of these deliciously beautiful things I've been planning. With today so grey and dull, and a baby sleeping peacefully, it was the perfect time to get cracking.
I busied myself with making Mulled Syrup - the original recipe can be found here. The house has been full of a wonderfully Christmassy fragrance - the tang of oranges, the warmth of ginger and the sweetness of cinnamon wafting from the kitchen.
As is the norm with me and recipes, I tweaked the ingredients and quantities, adjusting it to what I had in the cupboards and how I wanted it to taste. A little more heat from chilli and black pepper, a little less allspice (as I had none!) and a final squeeze of orange juice.
Instead of using a mulled wine spice bag and infusing the wine or cider, the syrup and booze is heated together = mulled in record time! (I'm envisaging a mug of cider with a splash of syrup bunged in the microwave until steaming!)
250g caster or granulated sugar
2 oranges, halved
Small piece ginger, sliced
Small pinch chilli flakes
Cardamom pod (I took this out after about 10 mins as I didn't want it to be too overpowering).
2 black peppercorns
Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan, with 1 litre of water, and slowly bring to a simmer. Make sure all the sugar has been dissolved. Turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 min. Leave in the pan to cool and then strain through a fine sieve (I used a muslin doubled over).
Sterilise your bottles (I found this made 1.5 330ml bottles-worth, but I think I probably reduced it more than the recipe intended) in hot, soapy water and then put in a warm oven to dry. Rewarm the syrup until just hot and then pour into the bottles and seal.
The original recipe advises using 400ml syrup with 750ml red wine or cider, but after reading the comments left on the recipe, I'll be labelling mine as 1 part syrup to 2 parts wine/cider.
I'm looking forward to testing it out before giving it away as presents! I had a swig out of the bottle this morning and it's good! It tastes sweet and spicy, with a warmth that tickles the back of your throat. I think it will be perfect with cider!