The stars most definitely aligned to bring this recipe to life – an innocent chat with a couple of foodie friends lead to it’s development and I am so glad we had that conversation about Snowballs and mulled wine! My lovely equally food-obsessed friend Jen, mentioned she was working on a blend of spices to turn into mulled wine sachets (how industrious, right?!) and at first I will admit, I was not convinced. You see, mulled wine has long seemed like a waste of spice and quite frankly, red wine, to me as I have never tasted one that didn’t make me wince and my teeth itch. Jen, it seems, had been similarly unimpressed so took matters into her own hands. She adds a modest amount of sugar which I never did and her spice blend is a stroke of ginger-haired genius (I am so envious of my red headed friends lol). After this chat, a quick little video popped up in my Facebook feed of how to make a spiced syrup for all your mulling needs and armed with Jen’s spice mix and the technique of syrup making in mind, my recipe for Mulled Wine Syrup was born!
Once I’d been convinced a spoonful of sugar helps the mulled wine go down, it was the use of bay, vanilla and cardamom that Jen suggested which really sold the idea to me. All too often, cloves speak too loudly in a glass of festive cheer and all of these spices are sweet and warming, husky and evocative – they round out the flavour profile, not overwhelm whatever they are flavouring. Some star anise and plenty of cinnamon add to rather than overtake the taste of the syrup, with the juice of my most favourite winter fruit, the clementine, to bring the essential seasonal citrus to your mulled wine rather than the vicious rawness of oranges (I may be alone here but I would no more eat a raw orange than a raw lemon but clementines, oh my, I am 95% clementine and 5% chocolate at Christmas time!). I add a little pre-mixed chai masala spice which I buy online from The Spice Shop London but there are suggestions for subs in the recipe itself – I do love adding it to cakes and bakes though, and it’s fragrant mix compliments this syrup perfectly.
To make the syrup, it is a simple matter of bringing all the ingredients to the bubble then simmering for 10 minutes and you are done. If you had the heat too hot and it is too thick, let it down with a splash of boiled water when the syrup is strained and cooled. When ready to serve your mulled wine, simply warm as much wine as you like and add the syrup to taste, bearing in mind you will only need a spoonful or two per person (unless you are a 4 sugars sort of person when it comes to tea and coffee!). Although, I must say it was my friend Anna’s suggestion of adding some to a glass of chilled Prosecco which had me running to the kitchen to make a bottle of this wonderful elixir! I have also painted it over freshly baked gingerbread, have plans for it’s addition into sweet treats galore (watch this space) and so much more. Of course, I first introduced Jen in reference to our mutual love of homemade ice creams and I can’t think of a simpler or more seasonal ice cream than a simple no churn vanilla ice cream with this syrup swirled in before freezing or poured generously over the top of a sundae dish of it, finished with crumbles of snowy white meringue… Cheers everyone! Let me know how you use this fabulous syrup in the comments 😀
- 250g light brown muscovado sugar
- 2 star anise
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp chai masala spice*
- 1 heaped tbsp green cardamoms lightly cracked
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 nuggets of stem ginger
- 1 split vanilla pod and it's seeds
- Juice of 6 clementines
- Slit the vanilla pod open and scrape the seeds into a medium saucepan. If you have time, stir all the remaining ingredients together and all to sit for half an hour to mingle and develop flavour.
- Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to bubble gently for 10 minutes.
- Pour into a sterilised bottle or jar with a capacity of about 300ml, store at room temperature away from sunlight. That's it!
- * = I buy a ready made chai masala spice blend from The Spice Shop London (available online and will ship internationally). It is billed as a mix of - pepper, cardamom, ginger, mace, fennel, cloves, cinnamon. Most of these are covered by my recipe but you could add a 1/2 tsp black pepper, a few cloves but be very cautious with the fennel if adding some as it can easily overpower.
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