Last week we served a very, very tasty spiced apple cider for our ‘sweet’ at Sparkles and Sweets. Since so many of our visitors like it, we thought we’d share our tips to recreate the drink at home.

This is a drink based on a popular Starbucks drink which we hadn’t even tried until the night before we made up our own batch. I can tell you now, I’m totally hooked!

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to recreate (get ready for a pinch of this and a splash of that-style directions!)

  • Apple Cider (apple juice might work, since you’re doctoring it up!)
  • Cinnamon Dolce syrup from Starbucks (more on this below)
  • Caramel for drizzling over the top – we got the kind that’s with the ice cream toppings
  • Whipped Cream

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Buying Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

We’ve gotten the Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Syrup from a Target Starbucks as well as a stand-alone. It’s not displayed as a ‘for sale’ item – just ask the barista and he or she should be able to get for you. I paid $10 for the syrup at the Target and $13 at the stand-alone site – NO idea why it was different, the bottles were exactly the same! Also…. I tried to buy one other time at the stand-alone site and they couldn’t sell any of the syrup because they were running low. So if you’re planning for an event and don’t have a lot of Starbuck’s near you, get your syrup in advance!

Proportions for large batches

We made ours in 4.5-quart crock-pots. Our cider came in gallon jugs. Since four quarts = one gallon, we had enough room to dump in one gallon of cider and still add in the cinnamon syrup.

The syrup comes in one liter bottles which is  four cups. I’d read around the internet to see on proportions and a lot of the recommendations were MUCH TOO SWEET!! We used about one and one-third cups of the syrup per one gallon of cider – one bottle of syrup is enough for three gallons of cider. The taste of the cinnamon intensifies as the cider heats up.

Heating up the cider:

We put our two crock-pots on high about two hours prior to the start of the event. We BARELY had gotten the cider up to the temperature we needed in that two hours, so if you have the time, start to heat at least three to four hours prior to serving time.

If you’re serving to a lot of people and need to refill (we served six gallons total over the course of the evening) – it’s sort of difficult to keep it hot. What we did was to serve about one-third of one crockpot, top off with more cider and syrup, then serve from the other crockpot while that one warmed up. Next time, we’re thinking of serving from air-pump pots so we have backup cider heating in the crockpots. Also, a large Pyrex measuring cup and a microwave might be a welcome addition to speed up the process. A lot of our hot cider was actually ‘lukewarm’ cider!!

Proportions for single servings

We experimented a bit at home to find the right proportions for a single/mug sized serving of spiced cider. I was using a mug on the large size – probably 12-14 ounces – and heating in the microwave. It seems that rather MORE of the syrup is needed when making by this method. I’m guessing the long-time steeping and heating in the crockpot helped the flavors come out more. The mixture that we served from the crockpot came out to between one to two tablespoons of cinnamon syrup per coffee-sized mug. When I made that at home in the microwave, it wasn’t quite sweet enough. Try starting with three tablespoons and adjust to taste!

Assembling the drink

Super easy! Ladle in some of your spice-infused cider, then top off with whipped cream and caramel drizzles. It’s nice to include some sort of stir-stick (we had paper straws with black and white barbershop-style swirls.) It’s WAY better if you mix in the whipped cream – sort of tastes like apple pie with vanilla ice-cream!
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P.S…. Here’s how we served the drink – white cups stamped with our Peppermint stamp! At the suggestion of some of our brilliant Instagram friends… we’re thinking of getting some mugs made with Peppermint on them! I’m super excited and trying to find a good source to for the travel mugs that look like coffee-shop paper cups and lids! Stay tuned!

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