As the advent evenings draw in, sip on these winter cupfuls and you’ll radiate warmth. Choose from a honeyed spin on hot chocolate, a lightly spiced almond milk, apple juice spiked with rum and butter, and a fruity twist on glühwein
Iam a hot drink person. My day is punctuated by coffee, hot chocolate and, above all, tea in all its forms: Earl Grey, fennel, rose, cinnamon, camomile … The bit of work surface next to my kettle is piled high with jars of petals and flowers from far-flung places.
These are the hot drinks I favour at this time of year: soothing chocolate for gentle evenings at home, warm spiced almond milk for when I feel a little under the weather, and two festive favourites.
Honey and camomile hot chocolate
Something for bedtime, this is also a good way to curb a sweet tooth after dinner. Add a little shot of dark rum if it takes your fancy.
Makes 2 cups 500ml milk (I use almond) 1 camomile teabag 100g good chocolate, broken up 2 tbsp honey
1 Heat the milk in a saucepan with the camomile teabag. When it is just about to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.
2 Take off the heat, remove the teabag and add the chocolate and honey. Ladle into cups and pop on to a little tray for bedtime.
Golden turmeric milk
This sunny yellow milk brightens me up when I’m feeling under par. I try to have a little turmeric every day, usually in a tea; its healing properties have been widely celebrated. Allowing the milk to cool a little before you add the honey will stop the heat damaging the honey’s nutrients. I also make a peppy morning version with a little grated ginger.
Makes 2 cups 4 cardamom pods 400ml unsweetened milk (oat, coconut, almond or anything you like) ½ tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp runny honey
1 Bash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and put them into a small saucepan with the milk, turmeric and cinnamon. Heat gently until almost boiling, no hotter – if you are using a non-dairy milk, it may split.
2 Pour into a mug – or strain it if the cardamom seeds bother you – and, once it has cooled a little, stir in the honey. Make sure you don’t spill any, as the lovely yellow colour can be rather persistent.
Hot buttered rum apple
A welcome change from mulled wine, this can be easily scaled up for a gathering. It can be made without the butter if you like, but it adds a comforting creaminess.
Makes 2 cups 100ml cloudy apple juice 25g unsalted butter, softened 2 cloves 1 cinnamon stick 1 clementine or small orange 30ml golden rum 1 tbsp maple syrup A little nutmeg
1 Heat the apple juice, butter and spices in a pan along with 50ml boiling water. Add a couple of strips of zest from the orange, along with its juice.
2 Once hot, take it off the hob and whisk in the rum and maple syrup. Serve in thick glasses or mugs with a grating of nutmeg.
Vanilla and lime mulled wine
This is as delicious as it is offbeat. You make a quick syrup infusion to ensure you get as much flavour as possible out of the spices and aromatics, then add the rest of the wine and warm through so that all the alcohol doesn’t boil away.
Makes 10 glasses 2 clementines 2 limes 100g light brown sugar or maple syrup 6 whole cloves 1 cinnamon stick 3 fresh bay leaves, crushed in hands 2 star anise 1 whole nutmeg 2 vanilla pods 2 bottles good full-bodied red wine
1 Strip the zest from the clementines and limes, using a potato peeler to produce large pieces. 2 Juice the fruit. 3 Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the pieces of peel and the fruit juice. 4 Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, star anise and about 10 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
5 Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes to allow the heat to bring out the flavours.
6 Turn the heat down to low and add the rest of the wine. Gently heat without boiling, then cover and leave to sit for about 30 minutes. When you are ready to serve, warm the mulled wine again without boiling and ladle it into heatproof glasses.
This sunny yellow milk brightens me up when I’m feeling under par. I try to have a little turmeric every day ...