Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Warm your heart in the winter cold

Note: I've made a much easier version now you can find here. It's still just as healthy!

The weather outside is so gloomy here, I can feel my mood plummeting with it. But that won’t stop me from spending time in the kitchen. To cheer myself up I made a heartwarming drink I’ve had too much last Christmas vacation (although admittedly still not enough). My boyfriend would treat me over and over again to an alcohol-free alternative to Glühwein in the bitter cold of Vienna: Apfel/Birne Punsch.

There are no words that could explain the sweetness of it: the memory of a busy city in the cold and my boyfriend constantly looking after me. I had to try and replicate at least the drink. So after hours of searching the internet and not finding anything suitable, I took some hints of the recipe and created one of my own. Here’s what I came up with for the Apple/Pear Punch:

5 apples
5 pears
200 ml water
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1. Start with peeling and chopping the apples and pears. Put them into a pan with 100 ml water and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
2. Bring the water to boil and then leave the apples and pears to simmer until they are soft. I used very ripe fruits and this only took me 20 minutes. 
3. Mash the fruits until you have a thick juice. Sieve the drink through a mesh or jam strainer to get the biggest bits out. (I left it to cool half an hour first)
4. Add the rest of the ingredients (water, anise, cinnamon and vanilla). Bring to boil for another 5-10 minutes and remove the spices. 
5. It's ready to drink now! In case you think it's still too thick: just keep adding water. 

At first I thought of adding some sugar as well. The drinks I had, although all of them slightly different, were very sweet. However I found the drink more than sweet enough without any sugar! The only thing that bothered me while testing this recipe is that it takes so many fruits to make just 3-5 glasses of punsch. Next time I'm buying biological apple and pear juice and maybe I'll add some of real pears and apples too.

While you're making this drink, let the sweet smell of fruit and spice take you away to whatever memories you have of winter days or nights. Let the drink warm you up inside while you huddle close to your family while it snows. Or, in case you never had spiced warm drinks for Christmas, create new memories! Are there any drinks you typically have during cold winter days that we can replicate?

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