These mulling spices are a delicious addition to warmed wine or apple cider (or juice) – just the perfect treat on a cold winter’s evening! They also can make a lovely hostess gift especially when coupled with a bottle of wine (a nice way to take the traditional hostess gift to the next level!). I will also share with you my favourite way of “packaging” the mix to make it extra special.
To make the mulling spices you need to combine: 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground allspice, 1 tsp. ground dried orange peel, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg. Store this in an airtight container until ready to use or package it up for gifts.
Many people will pack this up into individual serving sizes (1/4 cup of mulling spice mix per individual serving) in little bags made of cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine. These spice bags can then be dropped as is into the wine or juice as you are heating it to infuse the flavour in it or they can be opened up and dumped in.
My favourite way of presenting this as a gift though is as follows. I cut an orange in half and scoop out the meat of the orange. (Eat it as a snack or use it in a recipe…we just need the peel here!). Be careful when you scoop out the orange meat – you want to try avoiding tearing holes in it. Place the orange peel halves in the oven set on the lowest setting and allow them to dry out thoroughly. The time needed will vary according to your oven and your oven’s setting so just keep an eye on them until you have a handle on how much time it needs but this is not a quick process – nor do you want it to be or they will simply burn instead of drying.
Now once the orange shells are dry, pack the mulling spice mixture into them – I found that with most orange shells I could fit two servings of the spices in each but of course this will vary according to the size of the oranges you started with. Just remember they will shrink as they dry. For another lovely touch, I decorate the tops of the packed mulling spices with a criss cross of cinnamon sticks and then add some embellishments of whole cloves and/or whole allspice. You can then wrap these in something like cellophane – it’s nice because it protects them and holds the spices in place but also is transparent so your gift recipient can still see the lovely design on the spices.
It is a good idea to put a label on the container you keep this in so that anyone using the spices will know how to prepare the mulled wine or juice or in the case of the gift bags/orange shells, adding a tag with the instructions on it.
To use the spices: Place 1/4 cup of the spices, 1 cup wine or apple cider/juice and 1/4 cup water into a pan. Bring this mixture up to a boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes before serving. You can also increase the quantities and heat this up in a slow cooker if you are preparing the mulled wine for a crowd!