Like a comforting hug, or your favourite snuggly slippers, hot toddies are perfect for warming up cold hands and feet when coming in from the cold. I’ve compiled my six favourites to suit all kinds of moods and I’m sure you’ll find the one for you. The chamomile honey vanilla latte is one of my favourites to cosy up to just before bedtime. Chamomile is known for its sleep-inducing properties and will ensure sweet and peaceful dreams while the apple mint green tea is less indulgent for those moments when you’re watching the waistline. Hot cocoa is my take on hot chocolate, made with coconut milk for something a bit different. Remember to use fat-free milk to keep the calories down. My home-made spicy chai is better than anything you’ll find on a supermarket shelf; you’ll have all the spices in your storecupboard already and it tastes wonderful. The hot butterscotch is for those spoil-yourself moments and makes a great replacement for dessert when entertaining. And last but not least, the classic hot toddy, Glühwein is a sure way to warm up body and soul and even better when sipped in front of a roaring fire. What are your favourite winter hot toddies?
Chamomile honey vanilla latte
Brew half a pot of strong chamomile tea made with two tea bags. Heat 300 millilitres of fat-free milk with a vanilla pod or few drops of vanilla extract. Divide the strong chamomile into two mugs and top with the vanilla milk. Drizzle honey on top to taste.
Apple mint green tea
Break open two tea bags of mint green tea and place in a saucepan with half a sliced Granny Smith apple, pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a gentle simmer for two minutes. Set aside and allow to steep until fragrant. Strain and sweeten with honey, to taste.
Heat half a tin of reduced-fat coconut milk and one cup of fat-free milk with 75 grams of good-quality dark chocolate and a cinnamon stick. Simmer gently for a few minutes until fragrant. Alternatively, replace the chocolate with cocoa powder and adjust the sweetness with honey. Garnish with toasted coconut shavings or for a decadent addition, serve with toasted coconut covered marshmallows.
Home-made spicy chai
In a saucepan, combine ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom (or two to three crushed cardamom pods), four to six black peppercorns, four to six cloves, one cinnamon stick, one tablespoon of brown sugar (or to taste), the leaves from two Darjeeling or Assam tea bags and two cups of fat-free milk. Heat gently over low heat for two minutes and set aside to brew for 10 minutes before straining, reheating and serving.
Coat the sides of two mugs with tinned caramel or butterscotch sauce (for a quick and easy recipe and step-by-step video click here). Heat two cups of fat-free milk with a dash of vanilla extract and pour into cups to serve. For something a little different, serve with a sprinkling of sea salt for a salted caramel version. Salt and caramel are perfect partners so give it a try!
In a saucepan, gently heat three cups of red wine, one cinnamon stick, two tablespoons of brown sugar, two to three cloves, four star anise and the peel of one orange for five minutes. Set aside to infuse before straining, reheating gently and serving.
Some more ideas:
Hot chocolate is a great way to experiment. Try infusing the milk with dried chillies, basil leaves or fresh mint before adding the chocolate. Adding liqueurs also makes for a decadent treat every now and then and the wide variety of flavours mean you can get creative with combinations.
Purchase inexpensive spoons and dip them into dark or white chocolate a few times (allow to set inbetween) and tie together with a pretty ribbon. Package them with some marshmallows and you’ll have a thoughtful gift for someone special.