It took a while for me to get acquainted with the American habit of drinking Hot or Mulled Apple Cider in winter. In the Netherlands, we do not drink our apple juice hot; apple juice typically is a cold drink. However, one day my kids asked for Hot Cider, so I started making it at home. I like everything about it: the smell, the taste, and how easy it is to prepare. Plus it’s healthier than most drinks. We often have it in the afternoon when the kids come home from school, served with something sweet like these delicious chewy granola bars. The recipe for the bars is loosely based on a recipe from Megan Gordon, one of our Kitchen Table Friends who wrote a beautiful book on grains and nuts. They’re also a great energy snack for running, hiking, skating, skiing, bobsledding, or whatsoever.
MULLED APPLE CIDER
Drink, serves 4-6
Action Time: 5-10 minutes + 30-50 minutes steeping
1 organic orange
2 quarts/2 liter apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
about 1 inch/4 cm fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
1. Slice the peel of the orange, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Juice the orange.
2. Pour the apple cider in a large pan and add the orange peel, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Bring to a bowl, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-50 minutes. Strain the cider if you want and pour in mugs.
CRANBERRY GRANOLA BARS
Sweet, 16-20 bars
Action Time: 25 minutes + 25-30 minutes oven time + cooling
7 oz/200 g rolled oats
1.7 oz/50 g sunflower seeds
1.7 oz/50 g pumpkin seeds
5 oz/150 g mixed nuts (I usually use hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds), chopped
1.7 oz/50 g dried apricots, chopped
1.7 oz/50 g dried cranberries (preferably sweetened with apple juice)
grated zest of 1 organic orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz/120 ml sunflower oil
4 oz/120 ml honey
5.2 oz/150 g unsweetened almond butter
Extra: 9-inch square baking pan, greased and lined with parchment paper
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. In a large bowl mix the oats, seeds, nuts, apricots, cranberries, orange zest, and cinnamon. Add a pinch of salt.
2. In a small pan, heat the oil with the honey over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the mixture starts to bubble. Add the almond butter and stir to combine.
3. Add the honey-almond mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber or wooden spatula. Press the mixture into the baking pan and flatten the top.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Cut into squares or bars. I think they taste even better the next day! Store the bars in container at room temperature for 3 days. You can also store them in the fridge for 5-6 days.