I have a confession to make, and if you’ve been around Dianne’s Dishes a while you may have heard me make this confession before, I’m not a fan of coffee. I love the smell of coffee beans and when it’s ground, but the moment water hits it, it vastly loses its appeal to me. In fact when I was pregnant I couldn’t stand the smell of brewing coffee the entire nine months, it made me nauseous. I don’t like the taste of coffee and even if it is in infinitesimal amounts, like when it “enhances” the flavor of chocolate (don’t even get me started on that!) I can taste the flavor, and it’s a flavor that I just don’t care for. I’m an avid tea drinker, mostly iced green tea, but even hot tea works for me as well. On top of not liking the flavor of coffee, it doesn’t affect me one way or the other, so what’s the point?
So why am I telling you that?
Sometimes, especially this time of year, you just want a hot drink, and sometimes tea is not what I’m looking for. Sure there is always hot chocolate, but sometimes that isn’t quite what I’m looking for either. So what other options are there?
I may be one of the few people who frequents Starbucks who doesn’t drink coffee. My standard order is a venti unsweet green iced tea. Plain, simple and delicious. Yes I grew up in the South, but no I do not care for sweet tea, and believe me growing up in Tennessee you would be amazed how many people take it personally that you don’t want your tea sweetened. “Do you want artificial sweetener then?” they would ask and then be shocked when I said “No!” I like my tea straight up. I actually enjoy the flavors of the teas I drink. My standard order is what I order 9 out of 10 times. Occasionally I’ll get the unsweet Passion tea, or I’ll get a hot tea, but even in winter my normal order is still the iced green variety. But when I’m not in the mood for tea my two favorites of their hot drinks are their hot chocolates, and more often their Caramel Apple Spice.
If you’ve never tried an Caramel Apple Spice it’s basically warm apple juice, with caramel syrup and whipped cream. It reminds me somewhat of hot apple cider, so I decided a year or so ago to play around with some apple cider and see what I could come up with. By pairing a few simple ingredients you end up with a fabulous fall treat that is fun to share. What’s not to like about that?
What You’ll Need:
1 cup of water
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1/2 gallon of apple cider (Note: It’s really easy this time of year to find a fabulous, locally made apple cider.)
Mulling spices (Note: You can put the spices together yourself, or you can purchase them already put together. I normally us cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, etc. But this go around I got a package from Whiskey Island.)
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
In a small pot melt sugar in water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool. This will make a thin caramel sauce.
In a large pot place apple cider and mulling spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for 30 minutes or so.
Just before you’re ready to serve, whip the heavy cream with the organic cane sugar, until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
When you’re ready to serve strain the cider. (Trust me, or you’ll be picking out bits of mulling spice as you drink…Not that I’d know that personally or anything! ;oP) Place cider in a mug, drizzle in some of the caramel into the cup. Next top the apple cider mixture with a dollop of whipped cream, and then another generous drizzle of caramel syrup.
Notes: No notes for this one!