Mulled Apple Juice

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I think that nothing says Christmas more than a hot steaming cup of something mulled in those sensory spices to warm you up after a chilly day, well maybe some presents but thats best saved for Christmas day! I love mulled wine and cider, it reminds me of wondering through Christmas markets, the lingering smell of apple and cinnamon in the air, forcing your nose to carry you to the nearest stall selling it.

I love the build up to Christmas, I am like a child when it comes to Christmas. I already can't wait to get my Christmas decorations up and get the presents under the tree. I already have in my head how I want my house to look like, I think my boyfriend is worried he will come home and the house will be looking like Santa's grotto (in mid November).

Mulled wine and cider does contain alcohol, not lot but you don't want be having a gallon if you are driving or working. I fancied trying something which didn't contain any booze, I'm not teetotal but I'm trying to be healthy on the lead up to Christmas so I am watching my calories intake. When you are getting up at six in the morning it's already a struggle so don't want a hangover making it worse.

The mulled apple recipe I use is super easy and quick to make so you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen, especially good if you have guests over so you can play host. I think it is adaptable so if your not that keen on apple juice you could use grape juice instead.

What you will need
- Apple juice
- Orange
- Cinnamon sticks
- Cloves
- Star anise

Depending on how many people you are making this for will then depend on how much apple juice you need. I tend to use a quarter of a standard carton for me and about a half if you are making this for two people.

Add the apple juice to a small pan, then take a strip of the orange zest (using a peeler) and add it to the juice. I tend to use two strips per person, peel extra if you want to use this as garnish at the end.

Add a cinnamon stick, again I usually use one per person. I made this for my sister last weekend and she wasn't a huge fan of cinnamon so you could use half so it is a more subtle taste, I think the cinnamon is needed in the recipe so I wouldn't take it out.

Drop in the cloves, I would use two per person. I would remove these before serving so you don't choke your guest, (unless you want to cross someone off your Christmas card list).

Finally add the star anise, I use one per person. This could be optional as I have made it without, when I forgot to put it in but it does add a liquorice aroma more than flavour and as its a star is does look really pretty when serving.

Then let this simmer on a medium-low heat for around ten minutes and pour into mugs or fancy glasses. When I have put this into a glass, I have let it cool a little before I serve it, as I have heard a horror story about pouring boiling water into glass can make it smash, so do be careful.

You can add honey or sugar to sweeten if you have a sweet tooth, I don't think this is needed personally but when you taste it you will know whether or not to add it in at the end if you want to.

I am no mixologist but do let me know if you try this or make any alterations so I can try them out too.

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