Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I'm Giving: Mulling Spices


Drinking mulled wine makes me think of Paris. Three years ago, D and I spent our Thanksgiving holiday on a quick jaunt to London and Paris. One cold evening, we walked along the Champs-Elysées, which was lit up with dazzling lights and lined by Christmas chalets (booths) selling a variety of goods. I couldn't help but stop at one booth to order a nutella crepe, and not much farther along, we indulged in vin chaud (literally "hot wine," or what we would call "mulled wine"). There's nothing quite like a cup of warm spiced red wine to take off the winter chill.

This year, I thought I'd re-create that moment by making my own mulled wine, and giving pre-made sachets filled with mulling spices as gifts. All of these spices should be easily gathered at your local grocery store. I ordered reusable muslin bags from Amazon. Prior to using the pouches, be sure to wash them (don't use a scented detergent or dryer sheet). Mine needed a bit of an ironing after being washed, too.

Making the mulling spice sachets is simple -- just add all your spices to your bag, and voila! To give as a gift, I'd recommend packaging the mulling spice sachet along with a bottle of red wine. I prefer to use an inexpensive table red, such as Cupcake Red Velvet. Tie the mulling spice pouch and a festive ribbon around the neck of the bottle, pop it in a bag, and boom! -- your gift-giving is done.


Mulling Spices (adapted from this Serious Eats recipe)
makes one spice sachet

1 cinnamon stick
8 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cardamom pods, gently crushed
2 star anise petals
1/2 teaspoon granulated orange peel [optional]


Mulled Wine
makes about 3 cups

1 bottle red wine
1 mulling spice sachet
1/4 cup granulated or brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon brandy

1. Bring the wine to a simmer in a saucepot over medium heat.
2. Pour the wine into the bowl of a crockpot. Add the mulling spice sachet. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.
3. After 2 hours, sweeten with sugar and add the brandy. Simmer for another half-hour before serving.
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