I don't know about you, but I am forever forgetting to start crockpot dishes on time. Sometimes, it means dinner is something else entirely (pizza, anyone?). Sometimes, it simply doesn't matter. The case of this cider is the latter. It has just begun to be really blustery and chilly in Michigan. My mom and I had been out at the art museum all afternoon. My sweetie has a cold, with a very sore throat. I wanted to make her something warm, cozy, and soothing on the throat. Had I been thinking before we ran off to ogle the Diego Rivera murals and fabulous African masks, I would have set a pot going when we left so my honey would have something delicious to sip, all along.
However, when we got home and I remembered that I'd intended to make the cider, my mom agreed that we should go ahead and make it to go with dinner, anyway. This is all to say that if you are making a crockpot cider recipe and run out of time, you should feel free to pop it on top of the stove, instead. This particular recipe calls for ground cloves and allspice, plus cinnamon sticks. I worried that the cinnamon sticks would not have imparted their flavor to the drink by the time it was hot, but it was plenty redolent of cinnamon.
My mom referred to this drink as "cider punch" which is an apt description. It calls for sugar and orange juice, in addition to the spices. I used half the sugar and still felt it could be reduced. Frankly, I don't think it needs any sugar added at all. The cider and juice have plenty of sugar theirownselves. So, next time, I will skip the sugar. Furthermore, I need to remember that I dislike loose ground spices in my drinks. Even making this stovetop, I believe I'd rather use whole allspice and cloves next time. Better yet, I will stick a Post-It note on the door reminding myself to throw everything in the crockpot before I go gallivanting!
P.S. "For a Crowd" is a little misleading. Perhaps the recipe creator is thinking of wee punch cups, rather than the hearty mugs we use around our house, but just 2 of us (my wife bowed out, despite the soothing qualities, when she got a whiff of the strong dose of cloves) drank about a quarter of the recipe with one serving each. I made a half-gallon, which is half the recipe, and poured the leftovers back into the jug, leaving it half-full of spicy cider. So, if you use bigger mugs like we do, count on the whole recipe serving about 8 people, rather than the 16 the recipe claims to serve. Perhaps we are simply cider gluttons, though!