Hot Caramel Apple Cider
1/2 gallon apple cider (64 oz or 8 C)
1/2 C orange juice, fresh squeezed or good quality bottled like Simply Orange
2 cinnamon sticks (if yours are more than a year old- buy new ones!!)
1/4 t ground allspice
1/3 C jarred caramel sauce* more to taste if needed
optional: caramel flavored syrup
sweetened whipped cream (or from a can is fine!)
*For a delicious twist, substitute maple syrup for the caramel sauce in this recipe.
Begin by pouring 8 C of apple cider into a large stock pot on the stove pot. Set heat to medium-high. Add orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and allspice.
Thoroughly wash your orange and then gently stab the whole cloves into it. If you find it hard to do that without destroying the cloves, use a toothpick to poke little hole first and then insert the cloves. This is brilliant (if I don't say so myself) because it eliminates the need for a little bag to hold your cloves, and stabbing them in the orange releases oils and lots of yummy flavor! (If you are doubling the recipe, you can still just use one orange, just double the number of cloves you poke into it).
Gently drop the whole orange into the pot. Bring cider to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer on low for 60 minutes and longer if you wish. If you're keeping the pot on the stove for an extended period, keep an eye on the orange. If at any time it splits open, remove it from the pot. If the white pith is exposed it will add a bitter taste to your cider. If you're going to have the pot warming for hours on end, take out the orange. After you've simmered for an hour, add caramel sauce and stir to combine and dissolve. Add more caramel to taste if needed.
When ready to serve, ladle into mugs, top with whipped cream, and give it a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of cinnamon!
I mentioned in the ingredients that you could optionally add a shot of flavored syrup. You can find these types of syrups in the coffee isle of most grocery stores. The caramel sauce in a jar called for in the recipe gives a very mellow caramel flavor; it's really more for sweetness, so if you want the flavor to be more distinct, a shot of coffee style syrup is your best bet.
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