Fall is my favorite season, hands down. The air turns crisp, school supplies line store shelves and the year’s best stretch of holidays looms on the horizon. Those cool autumn nights are also a great excuse to indulge in a warm, cozy beverage (or two). Here are three of my favorite fall drinks.
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
This tasty fall treat is essentially a liquid peanut butter cup. Indulgent? Yes. Absolutely delicious? Also yes. What’s more, the recipe is easy to modify if you’re trying to avoid dairy or refined sugar. Here’s what you need:
1 ½ cups of the milk of your choice
¼ cup almond milk
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Add both milks, the chocolate chips, the sugar and the peanut butter to a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat. You can use any type of milk that you like, but I find that fuller-fat options, such as whole milk or full-fat coconut milk, yield the richest, creamiest drink.
Whisk the mixture until the chocolate chips are completely melted and its consistency is buttery smooth. Then add the vanilla, cocoa powder and sea salt. Whisk until combined and heated through.
Cover the saucepan and take it off the heat. Let it sit for five minutes so it thickens a bit before serving. If you’re feeling decadent, top each mug of peanut butter hot chocolate with whipped cream and/or a drizzle of additional peanut butter and some extra chocolate chips.
Bourbon Apple Cider
The bourbon in this quintessential fall drink is totally optional, but it adds an extra layer of autumn oomph to every mug. Whether you choose to indulge or not, the ingredient list looks like this:
1 gallon apple cider
¼ cup light brown sugar (dark will work, too)
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups bourbon
Heat the cider in a large Dutch oven. Stir in the nutmeg, allspice and sugar.
Stick the cloves in the orange, pointy end first. Make sure the buds are still sticking out, and try to space them evenly around the fruit. Add the orange to the cider, and simmer for 20 minutes, covered. If you’re adding the bourbon, stir it into the cider before serving in mugs garnished with cinnamon sticks.
I may have saved the best for last. This cozy beverage is a favorite of my family and friends when the weather turns chilly, and it couldn’t be easier to make. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 bottle of dry red wine
¼ cup Grand Marnier
1 orange, sliced into rounds
2 star anise
3 tablespoons maple syrup
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
Add all of the ingredients to a large pot and stir. (If you can’t find the star anise, try swapping in some cardamom pods, or simply leave it out.)
Crank up the heat to medium-high and when the mixture starts simmering, turn the heat to low and cover it. Let it continue to simmer for three hours. (You can simmer it for less time, as low as about 15 minutes, but the longer you let this spicy concoction simmer, the better!)
Strain the mixture and discard the fruit, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Serve in mugs and garnish with strips of oranges and/or lemons.
There’s no law that says you can’t drink a rustic tankard of mulled wine in the middle of June, but let’s face it — it’s just not as fun. When the temperature starts to drop in your neck of the woods, bundle up in your favorite slouchy sweater and sip one of these soothing fall libations.