Amaretto mulled wine and spiced bisuits

Last night in the village there was a Christingle service, where the 40-odd kids from the primary school (including my 4 year old son, Arthur) sang really sweet Christmas songs (well, Arthur didn’t sing much but he did sway and look cute). Then the villagers sang carols outside as the village was lit up. We ended up in the extremely well decorated local enjoying a couple of glasses of ‘Mulls’. It was really nice. Christmas has officially begun.

I say that, but we still won’t put our tree up for a couple of weeks. Well, I might cave after about 10 days… Many people I have spoken to already have their tree up. And have had it up for over a week! Isn’t this all happening an awful lot earlier than it used to? Shouldn’t we at least wait until 1st December? Isn’t that the whole point of advent? That it marks the first day of Christmas?

I fear that things like Black Friday are starting to mark the beginning of Christmas, which is so sad. I know we all like to go Christmas shopping, and presents are a part of the Christmas celebration. But for me it’s so important that the commercial element of this festival make up only a small proportion of it. The rest of Christmas is about friends, family, food, music, decorations, games, roaring fires, smells and sounds, family traditions – and church if you’re that way inclined.

If you’re feeling Christmassy and fancy making something nice to enjoy at home, I think it should be this: chuck together a big pan of mulled wine, knock up some biscuits and snuggle up with a friend or your other half. Put some Christmas tunes on and feel oh so merry. There is no comparison between shop bought Mulls and homemade. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back. And it’s perfect for parties, as you can keep adding to it, adjusting the strength as you wish. It’s like a glass of pure happiness. And oh my goodness the smell..!

I’ve added these recipes together as they go very nicely. And it’s a nice way to serve the mulled wine, if you do choose to do it for a social occasion.

I have used amaretto, as it gives a really nice almond-y taste. But feel free to use brandy if that’s what you fancy – or why not try whisky? That’d be very jolly.

Mulled wine

Makes: about 6-8 glasses
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients: 
1 good bottle of red wine
1/2 pint of water
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
20 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3-6 tablespoons of runny honey (depending on taste)
3 tablespoons of amaretto (or brandy)

Instructions: 

  1. Simply put all ingredients in the pan and bring to a low simmer for 20 minutes. 
  2. Do not bring it to over 70C or else the alcohol will boil off!
  3. It is fine to make this ahead of time and warm up to serve. 

Spiced Christmas biscuits

Makes: about 12 (these go quickly so maybe double up if preparing for a party!)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 
110g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
40g brown sugar
50g butter, softened
2 tablespoons of golden syrup

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease 2 baking trays. 
  2. Simply mix all the ingredients together with an electric whisk until it forms a dough. Use a wooden spoon if you have no electric whisk for the first bit. Bring it together with your hands. 
  3. Using a teaspoon to scoop the dough, roll balls about the size of ping pong balls and pop on the tray. They will flatten whilst they bake. Watch them carefully as they burn quickly. 
  4. Let them cool on the tray a little and then on a wire rack. 
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