This really is the scent of Christmas captured in a mug. Mulled cider is my go-to drink when I need something to make me feel instantly safe and cosy. Rather than throw a load of overly sweet sugar into the cider, I first make a caramel, which sweetens everything in a more complex way.

Ingredients - makes 3 litres

  • 125g caster sugar 
  • 6 cloves 
  • 4 cardamom pods 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 3 dried bay leaves 
  • 4 star anise flowers
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 3 litres cider 
  • 1 orange, diced
  • 1 apple, diced 


Heat a large casserole over a high heat and immediately add the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt and turn into a dark caramel - it will melt on its own in the heat of the pan without stirring, but feel free to give it a stir once it's almost entirely melted, especially if it looks as though it is colouring unevenly. 

As soon as the caramel is a dark amber colour, add the spices and stir to heat them, then throw in the cider and chopped fruit and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture boils, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and allow the cider to sit and mull for as long as you require (it'll be ready to serve after 30 minutes).