Happy December! Happy belated turkey day as well! I have an important question up for debate: when you think of warm winter boozy drinks do you think of a) hot toddies, b) hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, c) mulled red wine, and/or d) hot cinnamon apple cider with schnapps? By no surprise, I personally think of hot cocoa with any type of booze. Recently my friend Ed invited me over to learn and assist in his homemade eggnog making shenanigans. At that point, I was pretty sure that I had tried real eggnog before. Walking in to Ed’s kitchen and laying eyes on the 2 liters of bourbon, 1 quart of brandy, and 1 quart of rum, I realized that I had not in fact tried real eggnog before, tasting our creation, 100% confirmed that uncertainty.
Following in the tradition of my last three “booze jelly” winters, I figured it was time to dust off my limited, yet growing, bar. Browsing the web, I searched for top warm winter cocktails… Schnapps, schnapps, and more schnapps. Peppermint schnapps. Knowing from experience that booze plus sugar doesn’t equal jelly, I decided to search for peppermint & apple cider cocktails. While any bartender guru (just sayin’) may find this combo a bit undetectable, I made myself a cocktail (OK two- one warm, one cold) and deemed it pretty tasty and definitely worthy of some homemade jelly play. Depending on your peppermint flavor yearnings, you may need to either up your schnapps volume (careful as this will add liquid volume adjusting your liquid to sugar to pectin ratio), or add a few drops of peppermint extract right before pouring the jelly into the jars. Warning, peppermint extract is crazy strong compared to other pantry extracts.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the habit of starting most of my canning adventures at ~9 o’clock at night. My night owl canning tendencies typically work out just fine as the majority of things that I make are in small batches and take less than an hour. I’ve resisted my aptness for late night canning, and have held off on this apple cider molasses recipe all week waiting for a 4-5 hour idle window in my schedule. I came across the idea of apple molasses, also called boiled cider on the Auburn Meadow Farm blog.
A quick history lesson: boiled cider dates back to the sixteen-hundreds when European settlers would boil cider as a method for preserving it. In the past, boiled cider was commonly referred to as apple molasses because of its syrup consistency and because similar to molasses its main use was a sweetener for baking and cooking purposes. During the American Revolution, apple molasses was known as an indigenous sweeteners, which could readily be concocted right on the farm. For inland settlers, this may have been the only sweetener option as they did not live close or have easy access to the main coastal or riverine trade routes.
Do you remember those individually wrapped fireball candies? They were always conveniently priced and placed at the local pool, theater, arcade, or some other fun concession stand when I was growing up. I can recall the countless memories and horrible enjoyment of slobbering and sucking the hot saliva away which always resulted in very red and very sticky lips, checks, and fingers.
Fast forward 20 years to me discovering Fireball Whiskey. While it’s hard to deny the sugary goodness of Fireball whiskey, there is definitely a time and a place for it. I had been playing around with the notion of making a Fireball jelly for some time, and decided that rather than overpowering the jelly with the crap sugar and unknown ingredients, I would instead make my own cinnamon whiskey jelly using good old bourbon and cinnamon sticks. I ended up pairing apple cider with the whiskey as I wasn’t trying to make straight up whiskey jello shots… though come to think of it, that may have made the process much more exciting. Nonetheless, with a fifth of added whiskey, I’m not sure if I would choose this jelly for your kids’ next PB&J.
As a mid-Atlantic transplant, cold Maryland winters signify harsh bicycle riding conditions, fuzzy coats and boots, and hot spiked beverages… hot toddies, hot spiked cider, hot mulled wine… must I say more? A fond memory of my first winter in Baltimore was when a good friend would come over on Sunday mornings with a canteen full of hot spiked liquid to snuggle and reminiscence over our weekend mishaps and relationship woes. I remember justifying our Sunday tradition as a cure for the lingering headaches from the previous evening.
Perhaps because I started this new jelly making hobby in the winter, or because I don’t have the luxury of access to summertime fruits, I find myself drawn to hot beverage inspired creations. I have also been playing around with the idea of a rye and cinnamon jelly (stay tuned). This mulled cider jelly not only fulfills my warm winter beverage tendencies, but it was quite easy and a somewhat foolproof recipe. This jelly recipe is straight out of the Food in Jars cookbook. For those of you who don’t have a copy of Marisa’s book, I have included the recipe below.
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