Spiked hot apple punch

Two years ago, Jérôme and I were traipsing through the cobblestone streets of Prague, taking in the sites and trying our best to keep warm. This of course meant frequent coffee breaks. On day three, after dozens of espresso, cappuccino, hot chocolate, etc., we discovered what would soon become our winter drink of choice: “hot apple punch.” It was everything we needed: spicy, warm, sweet and alcoholic. We had several on our trip, and as soon as we got home, I set out to recreate the winter cocktail so that we could enjoy it whenever we wanted to.

Not only is this hot punch delicious, but it will also fill your kitchen with aromas reminiscent of all that I love about winter: gingerbread, pumpkin pie, apple pie… All of these classic comfort foods come to mind as the spices are slowly cooked in apple juice and caramel. I like to make a big pot of this and then store it in the fridge, heating it up whenever the mood strikes me. We usually have it as a before dinner drink, but it would go great with cookies or scones, replacing your afternoon tea, with or without the alcohol. Why not try it with this cinnamon, vanilla bean and hazelnut shortbread?

Spiked hot apple punch

2 T butter
3 T brown sugar
3-4 pieces of orange rind
7-8 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
A pinch of allspice
3 C apple juice
3/4 C dark rum
1/2 C Calvados or other apple liquor

This recipe will make your house smell amazing. Starting out with a caramel base will give this punch deep flavor.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together, stirring often. Add orange rinds and let bubble 1-2 minutes, stirring so that nothing sticks to the pan. Add your spices and let simmer 1-2 minutes more. Deglaze your mixture with the apple juice, starting with a 1/4 C or so and whisking well to integrate the caramelized spice mixture. Add the rest of the juice, turn down the heat and let it slowly warm up and infuse, about 15 minutes. Add the alcohols, continue warming 5 minutes longer.

Ladle into mugs and serve hot!


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