One of the things I love most about fall and winter are the all of the warm, yummy drinks. I’m kind of obsessed with them, actually. I’m sure a lot of you are used to having a hot drink in your hands just about every morning, year-round. But see, I don’t drink coffee, so I look like a total weirdo walking around with a cup of hot chocolate in the middle of July. I actually drove through the coffee shop drive-through last month when it was 96 degrees out to order a steamed milk with almond flavoring (a little addiction). The lady at the window said, “Really? You know we sell Frappachinos, right?” See? She thought I was so weird. So when the cool fall weather rolls around, it’s my cue that it’s socially acceptable to be seen in public with my little steamed milk or my peppermint hot chocolate. And during the fall months, there’s nothing better than a warm, spicy cup of cider.
One problem I have with a cider recipes is that they all seem to be designed to feed 50 people. I made this in a relatively small batch with measurements that are easily doubled to use the whole container of cider.
Hot Caramel Apple Cider
Recipe by Our Best Bites
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.
First off, let’s talk apple cider vs apple juice. Right off the bat I should mention to our international readers (I know, how cool does that sound?) here in the US apple cider does not refer to an alcoholic beverage like it does overseas. The main difference between cider and juice is that cider doesn’t go through all of the filtering processes that apple juice does, so it still has a lot of pulp and apple sediment in there. Check out this picture:
See how clear the juice is? A good apple cider should look kind of murky and when you shake it you should be able to see lots of pulp and stuff swirling around. It seems like there aren’t too many regulations when it comes to labeling because I still see some brands of apple cider in the stores that are indistinguishable from apple juice.
The biggest difference, however, is the taste. Apple juice is super sweet, yet watered down and not very flavorful. Apple cider is so flavorful it almost has a little zing to it. It really tastes like fresh apples all mushed up…because that’s what it is! Don’t even attempt this recipe with apple juice. You should be able to find apple cider just about anywhere these days. Look for one like this that is clearly labeled as cider, is made from 100% juice, and has no added anything!
Enough on that. Let’s make this stuff. 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.
And since I have a feeling people will ask… no, I wouldn’t substitute ground cinnamon or cloves. For one thing, the whole spices taste a lot better, but also ground spices will just add grainy pulp to the mixture. I used ground allspice because it’s a small amount and sometimes whole allspice berries are difficult to find.
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. You could also try the Starbucks brand. 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.
And there you have it. I can’t think of anything more perfect for a cool fall day. And it’s a heck of a lot better, and cheaper than a coffee shop! Make up a batch to sip while you carve pumpkins this week!
Got cider? Use the rest in this or these!
Hot Caramel Apple Cider
This warm drink is perfect for a crisp fall day. Now all you need is a pumpkin to carve!
- 1/2 gallon apple cider (64 oz or 8 C)
- 1/2 C orange juice, fresh squeezed or good quality bottled like Simply Orange
- 1 orange
- 8 cloves
- 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 (link in post)
- sweetened whipped cream (link in post, or from a can is fine!)
- Pour 8 cups 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. (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.
- Important Note: I made this in a relatively small batch with measurements that are easily doubled to use the whole container of cider.
- Great tip: *For a delicious twist, substitute maple syrup for the caramel sauce in this recipe.
And lastly a shout-out to all of you crafty kids who have been uploading pics to our facebook page. We love seeing your projects! Keep ’em comin’!
Melissa- no cloves aren't really that expensive! You can find them in the spice isle 🙂
I've honestly never used cloves before (not a cook lol). Are they expensive?
Yum! I am totally making this as soon as I can get to the store!
I love caramel apple cider from Starbuck's. I can't wait to make my own now!
Awaiting the fresh apple cider to show up in the stores and farmers markets. As soon as I see it, I am going to give this yummo a try!
Tami, it should work just fine in the crock pot. I would keep it on low and keep an eye on the orange. If it starts to split at all, take it out so the cider doesn't turn bitter.
Has anyone every made this in a crockpot. We do a big family get together for Christmas Eve and I would love to do this. But since we have to rent a hall, since no one has a house big enough, and I won't have access to a stove I was wondering.
I made this for my parents while they were in town for Thanksgiving and we all loved it! Easy to make and very yummy!
Verde- you bet. You can definitely store extra in the fridge and reheat. I would take the orange out though, when the mixture goes in the fridge.
This looks sooo good!
I've never had any kind of apple cider before and was just wondering, if I make a batch of this and have more than I need, can I just put it in a pitcher in the fridge and heat up more as I need it?
That looks soooo good. I'm tempted to go to the store right now and get all the ingredients
Thanks Beth- I'm glad we managed to make a cider lover out of you!
Let me start by saying warm drinks are not my favorite. I LOVE cold apple cider, water, cranberry grape juice. People are always trying to get me to try warm apple cider I try to decline, still end up with a mug and give it to my husband we he is done with his.
I tried this recipe why I don't know but I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It is soooooooo good. Thanks for the great recipes!!
I am the exact same way as you. I do not drink coffee. I do not drink caffeine for that matter. My best friend's mother has been making me spiced tea for the last 12-15 years. But, I too, feel silly carrying that around in, oh…JULY!!! I actually just posted on my friends FB page that I am so glad the cooler temps are here so I can use my spiced tea again.
I LOVE ME some caramel apple cider. It is delicious. But I do have a problem paying $59685 bucks for it at the local coffee shop. I will be trying your recipe….THIS WEEKEND!!!!
IS THAT what the clove orange is for. I've been trying to figure it out every year my kids make one in Preschool.
Oh my – that sounds amazing. We live less than a mile from an apple orchard (I know, heaven!) and we can watch them make the cider in their cider barn. very fun! If you like shakes, they make an apple cider milkshake, so I duplicated it and put it on my blog. It's delicious!
Sara- I'm the same way with hot drinks. I busted out the apple cider here, even though it was 90 degrees. I NEED it to be COLD so I can drink HOT STUFF!
YUMMMM that sounds so good and I LOVE spiced cider. Plus the house will smell so good! We do a 'Oktoberfest' every year at work and have a cider press. Nothing like fresh pressed cider! Oh ya!
Thanks for the great recipe!!
In the US, we have "hard" cider. That's the alcoholic version. Yes, it is good stuff.
This looks like my kind of drink, can't wait to try it!
i actually can't believe that american cider is just cloudy apple juice and not alcoholic! you don't know what you're missing out on 😉 haha
Mmmm I make caramel apple cider all the time but I use the little packets of cider mix instead.
That reminds me, I have to add caramel sauce to my grocery list…
I can totally see this in the crockpot….
Yum! I LOVE hot apple cider! The cider mill by me has the best apple/pear cider so I could totally use it for this : )
I just wanted to tell you that I just discovered your blog yesterday after THREE days of recovering from the dreaded H1N1. I'm on my last (hopefully) day of rest and I am still enjoying reading through old posts. Thanks so much for such great recipes and wonderful pictures! I totally wish I could be you guys and do such lovely work all the time!
looks delicious and thanks for all the great tips,I will certainly make this once our weather gets a little more fall like!
I'm having troubles trying to print this… anyone else? Everytime I go to the printer-friendly option it brings up the delicious rolls!
Mmmm this sounds soo good right now…especially the caramel touch!
I could really go for some of this right now. Do you guys deliver???
I just have to say how happy it makes me to get on your blog at 7 am and have there be a happy new recipe for me!