Even the Aegean city where I live saw snow flurries this week, and the cold, cloudy afternoons find us inside enjoying our Christmas lights and sipping something warm. A hot drink on a chilly day warms the soul and brings cheer to dark December days. My family’s current favorites are hot apple cider, spiced chai latte and peppermint white chocolate mocha.
Hot Apple Cider
1 liter apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of dried orange peel
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP molasses
1 tea bag
Juice of ½ orange
Add all the ingredients except for the orange juice to a pot, and let it simmer 20-30 minutes. Add an extra cup of water to prevent it from boiling down too much. Add orange juice before serving.
Spiced Chai Latte
To make chai spice mix, grind the following in a spice mill or coffee grinder:
1 TBSP cardamom seeds
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
Store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness and use it to make chai latte.
Boil ½ tsp. of the spice mix in 2 ½ cups of water for 5 minutes. Add 2 tea bags. Turn off, cover and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups milk and bring to a simmer. Add 1 TBSP sugar and stir. Pour through a tea strainer into cups and serve hot.
Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha
2 heaping TBSP white chocolate chips
2 mini candy canes, crushed
2/3 cup brewed coffee
1/3 cup 2 % milk
Optional: Whipped cream and crushed candy canes
Put the white chocolate chips in a large mug and heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. Add the crushed mini candy canes and the hot coffee. Stir for a few minutes until the chocolate and candy canes are dissolved. Add the milk and reheat in the microwave. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with crushed candy cane if desired.