I know most prople drink Champagne for toasts. But the stuff gives me a headache, even the really good bottle will put me down in two glasses and I'll have the headache for two days. And I have to figure that I'm not the only one who doesn't drink Champagne, so I thought I'd share our favorite holiday - toasting - party - cold weather - beverage with you. A woman I met several years ago gave me the basic recipe, but I've changed it enough to call it mine. You should know that if you make this - everyone will beg you for the recipe. So if you carry it to a party you should take some copies along. Oh, and don't serve it to anyone about to head out the door. It had quite a kick. Photo is from Virtual Finland.
Claudia’s Swedish Glögg
.75 litre bottle of inexpensive dry red wine
1.5 litre bottle of port
1 bottle of brandy
10 inches of stick cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cardamom seeds
2 dozen pink peppercorns
Peel of one orange
1/2 cup gold raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup sugar
Garnish with the peel of another orange
There is no need to invest in expensive wine or brandy because the spices are going to preempt any innate complexity of a fine wine, but don't use anything too cheap. Remember, the sum will be no better than the parts. (I used ½ inexpensive and ½ 10-year-old port, $12 wine and Christian Brothers Brandy) Do not use an aluminum or copper pot since these metals interact chemically with the wine and brandy and impart a metallic taste. Use stainless steel or porcelain.
Cardamom comes in three forms: pods, seeds, and powder. Do not use powder. If you can only find the pods (the look like orange seeds), take about 2 dozen and pop them open to extract the seeds. Cardamom seeds and pink peppercorns may be hard to find, so you may need to order them from a spice specialist like www.Penzeys.com (Penzey’s has WONDERFUL spices and the extra effort is really worth it).
The day before: Pour the red wine and port into a covered stainless steel or porcelain kettle. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, raisins, and almonds. Warm gently, but do not boil. Boiling will burn off the alcohol.
Put the sugar in a large stainless steel pot and soak it with half the bottle of brandy. Warm the sugar and brandy slurry over a low flame. The sugar will melt and bubble until it becomes a clear golden syrup of caramelized sugar. This caramelization is crucial to developing complexity, do not omit this step.
Add the spiced wine mix to the caramelized sugar and brandy mix, add in remaining brandy. Cover and let it mull on the counter, overnight. Do not refrigerate. Just before serving, train to remove the spices, fruit and nuts.
To serve glögg, warm it gently over a low flame or in a crockpot, and serve it in a mug. Garnish it with a fresh orange peel, twisted over the mug to release the oils.
Drink while seated and give your car keys to a friend