Food

Three Warm Drinks for Winter Days

Three Warm Drinks for Winter Days

We have a running joke in our house…

Since March, my morning routine has mostly gone like this: Wake up at 7:30, take a walk or go for a run, come back home, then make a really good cup or two of coffee for my husband (or the other way around), sit at the kitchen table and savor it. And almost every morning, as we take our last few sips, one of us will joke: Well, best part of the day is over.

Caffeine, I mean coffee, has always held a very special place in our hearts, but that morning cup has taken on an almost mythical special-ness for us since we’ve been working from home. Of course, it’s more about the ritual than the coffee itself, a momentary calm before we head to our separate screens for the day.

I think that’s why recently, as the temperature has started to drop up here in New York, I’ve started a new-to-me ritual: the afternoon warm drink. At first it was just a cup of tea, then when fall hit, it became cider, and now, as we head into the holidays, and the kids are game for a little mid-day self-care, too, all kinds of possibilities present themselves. I thought I’d share a few in case you’d like to join us.

Hot Mulled Cider

All of these are written to serve one, but can be doubled and tripled and quadrupled etc. etc, as needed.

Hot Mulled Cider
This feels very witches brew-y to me — I often just throw in what I have and hope for the best, but it’s crucial to have two things (in addition to the cider): a cinnamon stick and an orange slice. (Lemon works, too.) I have never been a licorice girl, so I don’t usually include anise, but I know some people love it, and it looks so pretty.
Serves 1 (can be doubled, tripled, etc.)

1 mug’s worth of apple cider (about 8 to 10 ounces)
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1 piece star anise (optional)
1 orange cross-section (as shown)
8 to 10 fresh or frozen cranberries (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cloves before pouring cider into your mug.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
There are three things I want you to know here: First, for extra smooth (no-clump) hot cocoa, it’s crucial to concoct the chocolatey paste before you pour in the milk — don’t skip that step. Second, clean the pot immediately — warmed milk gets sticky fast and it will ruin your cozy hot cocoa moment if you have to think about it sitting in the sink getting all stubborn on you. Lastly: If you want to make this extra decadent, add a one-inch square of dark chocolate.
Serves 1 (can be doubled, tripled, etc)

1 mug’s worth of milk (any fat content, preferably minimum 2%), about 8 to 10 ounces
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon sugar (skip the sugar if the cocoa is sweetened)
not even 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
whipped cream (spray is fine, even encouraged)
1 candy cane or 2 peppermint swirl candies, crushed (to crush: place candies in a baggie, then bang with a rolling pin until it’s reduced to shards)

Add milk to a small saucepan set over medium heat and remove it from the heat when it starts to simmer aggressively. (You don’t want it to boil over.) While it heats, stir together cocoa, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water in a mug until it forms a smooth paste. (If you are using a square of dark chocolate, add it now.) Add the milk and extract, stirring until smooth and chocolatey. Serve topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy.

Golden Milk
Full disclosure, I’d never made this for myself until yesterday when I was looking for something healthy-but-indulgent to add to the mix here. I have, however, spent way too much money buying Golden Milk (also called Turmeric Milk), the traditional Indian almond milk-based drink flavored with turmeric — that’s where it gets its beautiful color — and other spices. It’s so easy to make, so earthy and comforting. This recipe is only slightly adapted from Meera Sodha‘s, author of East, one of the best cookbooks of 2020.
Serves 1 (recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc.)

1 mug’s worth unsweetened almond milk (about 1 cup, 8 to 10 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cardamom (optional)
1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup for vegans), plus more to taste

In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk, turmeric, ginger, cardamom (if using) and honey. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat off. Leave to infuse for a couple of minutes, stir, then pour into your mug. Stir and check for sweetness, adding more honey to taste.

P.S. Family rituals and two next-level cocktails.

  1. Amazing and delightful recipes. Definitely gonna try them.
    golden milk Is the one we make here with turmeric and many other herbs.

  2. Nidhi Dube says...

    Add a pinch of nutmeg to your golden milk or Haldi Doodh like we call this in India and you got yourself a nice sleep aiding beverage.

  3. Mary Duncklee says...

    I love mint and chocolate together. Definitely trying your recipe!

  4. Awads says...

    Well, I just made my teenage son that minty hot cocoa and served it up to him in his room (the ONLY silver lining to this quarantine is that I can see my son during the day). As I made my way down the stairs, i over-heard him brag about it to his friends. #winning!

  5. evie edwards says...

    Don’t skip the black pepper in the golden milk. It helps to absorb the nutrients: “
    (from http://www.healthline.com)
    — Turmeric and black pepper each have health benefits, due to the compounds curcumin and piperine. As piperine enhances curcumin absorption in the body by up to 2,000%, combining the spices magnifies their effects. They may reduce inflammation and improve digestion, particularly in supplement form.”

    • Emma says...

      Afternoon coffee is 👌🏽. My parents ALWAYS make a pot around 3:00, it’s gotten to the point that my sister and I will sometimes time our visits to coincide with coffee time. It’s so nice to take a little afternoon break together.

  6. Lindsay says...

    Healthy nutritious rich hot cocoa I love:
    1 Cup Nut milk, 1T unsweetened cocoa powder, Tsp. Cinnamon, Tsp, coconut oil, tsp. Honey, a date, pinch of salt – blend it well and then heat up in sauce pan.

    I also love to make my own herbal teas with fresh herbs, zest of lemon, orange….etc

    Another unique hot drink my kids and I love is to add floral waters. My son always asks for rose milk before bed! I like orange blossom water too. I add them to my smoothies as well.

    I don’t drink any caffeine anymore and feel great!

  7. janine says...

    I LOVE a hot beverage (and am also coffee obsessed). I have a bunch of whole star anise that I bought for one recipe and then… never used. I think I could make at least a few of these drinks with some of it! Come to think of it, I also have a jar of ‘mulling spices’. Guess it’s time to experiment with some of these! I’ve been into the afternoon hot beverage lately, too.

  8. Awads says...

    I’ve been treating myself to a Nespresso cappuccino pretty regularly now that i work from home. I can’t believe how long I let my milk frother sit idle! Thanks to this post, i think i’m going to add some peppermint extract to it, and top with a candy cane! Whoo hoo!

  9. Megan Johnson says...

    I make myself a cup of Golden Milk every New Year’s Day. It’s an easy, tasty ritual that makes me feel cared for and “healthy” at the start of the new year. Funnily enough, I didn’t make one at the beginning of 2020–just slipped my mind I suppose–and I later joked with a girlfriend that perhaps this year was so terrible because I didn’t have my Golden Milk on January 1st :-) Needless to say, I’ll definitely be making a cup this year. Cheers!

  10. Diana K says...

    I enjoy Trader Joe’s Matcha Latte Mix. You just add hot water and you get a beautiful creamy cup of green. So comforting.

  11. Megan says...

    Over the past two days I have made hot chocolate from scratch (Bon Appetit’s recipe—riiiich but so good), golden milk, hot apple cider and hot mulled wine (both in the instant pot on ‘keep warm’) and eggnog with rum. Love Christmas and winter bringing out the warm drink aficionados in all of us!

  12. Hanna says...

    my warm drink routines totally get me through my day!

  13. Jaime says...

    I made your hot chocolate recipe after our Christmas Day walk out in the cold. It was delicious! I think it was the first time I made hot chocolate without a packet…very proud of myself and will definitely be trying it again.

  14. Kay says...

    I love these ideas! I will try the golden milk tonight :)

  15. Louisa says...

    I have a new puppy, and my routine is to wake up by 6 (b/c the pup wakes up early), take him out into the bitter cold, and then come inside, where he sits on the heating register while I make and then drink my coffee and listen to Christmas music. Like Jenny, this marks the end of the best part of the day.

    A second vote for the smittenkitchen mix! – so good. So easy.

  16. maywyn says...

    Great drinks for an afternoon
    FYI…I see an interesting item in ad here, but continue reading. When I go back to click on ad, and it has changed. Page refresh brings it back. I click on item, nothing happens. Finally, the why this ad sign shows up. Tell Ashley Home store this blog is missing out on clicks because ad doesn’t respond well.

  17. J says...

    And for after a dinner dessert, add some bourbon to your homemade hot chocolate or mulled cider.

  18. Denise says...

    I found a cinnamon hot cocoa at Target and am obsessed with my evening caffeine-free Nespresso hot cocoa combo. It’s a great little “dessert” style item, and warm and comforting. For afternoons I have a delicious cinnamon tea (can you sense a trend here?!). I’ve never been much of a tea drinker but I’ve been loving it too.

  19. Amanda says...

    I have been all about a mid-afternoon cup of Earl Grey recently – with some sugar and a splash of milk. It’s something I actually look forward to!

  20. Stacy says...

    Don’t boil the honey, and I would definitely add black pepper so your body can better absorb the tumeric in the golden milk! Golden milk is delicious! Look up more traditional recipes to learn why those two steps matter!

    • Kimberley says...

      Yes! Wanted to say the same thing about adding black pepper to help turmeric absorption!
      Yummy ideas xxx

  21. Marla says...

    It is the little things in life, isn’t it? Also, warm beverages make me think of Sheldon Cooper and that puts a smile on my face. Happy Holidays!

  22. MProc says...

    I love this! While my kids were doing virtual school this semester, I started making them hot chocolate and/or tea in a fancy cup and saucer combo around mid-morning every day. . It became a favorite ritual for all of us!

  23. Kim says...

    Will have to try these. My kids will be excited about the peppermint cocoa.

    Have been drinking more tea since the pandemic started and usually have a cup mid-morning (after my early morning coffee) and again mid afternoon. Morning is plain tea but for afternoons I’ve been doing a home version of a London fog. I use decaf Earl Grey, frothed milk (thank you to my sis for the frothing machine!), honey, and a smidge of vanilla.

  24. Emma says...

    Winter came and my craving for my favorite coffee hit me loud and clear, a nice cup of very hot coffee with half a shot of Irish Creme, (I use Carolina Irish creme because putting Bailey’s in coffee is a sin), then I top it with whip creme and sit back and watch the news….just a dab of Irish to make my coffee taste so rich and sweet. And with scones and raspberry jam it just is the best way to start any day.

    • Nadia says...

      I love coffee with Irish Cream as well, why is it a sin to use Bailey’s?!? So curious, my family often uses Bailey’s but we use Carolan’s as well.

  25. Maya says...

    So appreciative that you acknowledged the Indian roots of turmeric milk! Have seen one too many blogs act like they invented this traditional South Asian drink :)

  26. Casey says...

    We made your hot chocolate recipe tonight and went to look at lights. My 7 year old – pure delight! My sick husband is home waiting on results from his COVID test so this mama thanks you for a recipe that tops Starbucks!

  27. Jean says...

    Don’t forget Brodo’s bone broth! It’s my favorite afternoon hot drink; it’s delicious by itself or with “add-ins”! Although made in NYC it ships around the country. Full disclosure, I’m in no way related to this company; I discovered Brodo’s on a visit to NYC several Christmas’ ago!

  28. Emily says...

    I started to make an eggnog cream in the afternoons. Take your favorite eggnog and warm it up in a milk steamer/frother, pour over boiled/hot water, add nutmeg on top. It’s like the starbucks eggnog creme but at home.

  29. Mrs G says...

    I dislike hot chocolate intensely but I do love my first cup of tea of the day and then, when I return from my early morning job as a cleaner, I open the front door and smell the coffee that my husband has made. Until I have had that first cup, my day doesn’t really fall into place. I am in my 60s, have had many jobs, different careers, but when I get that first coffee, I know my day has started well. As an English person, we tend to divide the days into cuppas…about 4pm is fine. Simple pleasures.

    • RD says...

      You sound like an amazing woman to drink afternoon tea with….. fair play!

  30. Emily says...

    Yummm nothing better than a hot chocolate! Lately, I’ve been making ginger tea after dinner to drink while I watch TV. I just boil a small pot of water with slices of ginger for about 5 minutes and then pour into a mug. You can boil longer for stronger flavor. Then if you want some extra flavour you can add a slice of orange or some cinnamon. Basically a little more interesting than hot water haha.

    • Sarah says...

      I love Trader Joe’s Ginger Turmeric Tea. I’ll have to try straight up ginger tea!

  31. Emily L says...

    Aw, these ideas are lovely. I make my own hot chocolate mix (Smitten Kitchen’s Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix) and when it’s piping hot I drop in a Lindt or Ghirardelli square. Yum.

  32. Hilary says...

    I am obsessed with a new hot cocoa recipe, which is similar to Jenny’s, but minus the peppermint, add healthy dashes of vanilla and salt, then top with cream as you’re putting it in the cup. OMG it is heaven in a cup.

  33. Jeannie says...

    Can’t wait to try all of these! One year, I gave up coffee and tea for Lent, and I actually found the afternoon cup harder to give up than the morning one. Once you start on the afternoon hot beverage, you can’t go back. :)

  34. Cooper says...

    So excited to try that Golden Milk recipe! I bought tumeric awhile ago intending to try it and haven’t experimented yet.

  35. Agnès says...

    Im a huge fan of golden milk which my son calls wolves’milk for some reason. I make it with coconut milk and pepper. You will sleep like an Angel…

    • Sarah Brakke says...

      Do you drink it right before bed or in the afternoon? I’m having an awful time sleeping lately! Looking to try anything that might help.

  36. ARC says...

    I had a gift card for bed bath & beyond ….. so I bought a milk frother (little plug-in machine). Gives coffee and hot chocolate another dimension! My son and I have a cup of afternoon coffee with frothed milk now after (remote) school ends; I add cinnamon sugar to mine. Nice new ritual.

    • Katherine says...

      I picked up a milk frother from our buy nothing group during our lockdown, and we would have cafe time on afternoons that needed some sparkle. I’d serve the kids’ in cups and saucers, with their bikkie and a MARSHMALLOW and spoon on the saucer and chocolate dusting on the froth, and it would blow their tiny minds every time. A CAFE, at HOME.
      Simple things can be such fun.

  37. Cyn says...

    I love the mug. Can you share where it’s from?

  38. Kim says...

    Love this post. I’ve been really enjoying making hot cocoa and making it really decadent. First, it was for the kids with whipped cream, chocolate or caramel sauce drizzled on top with some seasonal sprinkles, but now I also make a seriously wonderful one for my self because it’s so nice to unwind. I can only handle small amounts of dairy, so I use almond milk and use real whipped cream as the little bit of dairy I can tolerate.

  39. Linds says...

    We’ve got White Christmas on repeat this year because my 4-yo LOVES it, and I find myself craving hot buttered rum (light on the butter) even though I’ve never had it.

    • Emma says...

      Not buttermilk? :D

  40. Abby King says...

    Thank you for the suggestions Jenny! Here’s a pro tip for anyone looking to spice up their afternoon drink even further: After pouring your hot drink, lay one of Trader Joe’s stroopwafels (caramel waffle cookie) on top of your mug for several minutes. If you have enough patience, flip the wafel and let sit for another few minutes. The steam and heat from your drink will warm up the caramel inside and give you a sticky, melty treat to accompany your afternoon ritual.

    • Linds says...

      THIS ^ I also wholeheartedly recommend.

    • Hilary says...

      YESSS this. For those that can’t get to a Trader Joe’s, Cost Plus World Market has some really good stroopwafels as well!

    • Jane I. says...

      I third this suggestion!! Yes to stroopwafels (and for you thrifty folks like me, you can often find them at TJ Maxx and the similar Rip Van wafels at Starbucks)

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      that sounds inCREDible

  41. Jill says...

    Jenny thank you so much! We are going to our snowy mountain cabin over Christmas and New Years and this is going to actually help the quarantine Christmas without family feel a little better. I’m planning on making all 3 over the week. I feel better already!
    Merry Xmas and happy new year!

  42. jane says...

    I finally found an a gluhwein I like. Usually store-bought have too much clove but this one is so good I’ll share the source. No affiliation, I just like it:
    (https://bergdorfcellars.orderport.net/product-details/0020/Gluhwein).
    I’ve been drinking a warm glass every evening and it has been so nice…definitely Christmas in a cup.

  43. Deb in Oklahoma says...

    Years ago, my family made the “cheater’s version” of peppermint hot chocolate: Swiss Miss instant with hot milk and a splash of Peppermint Schnapps. I now prefer the longer, recipe-based version, but at the time, the old way was pretty darn good, and after a couple of them, you didn’t care how cold it was outside.

  44. Lauren says...

    Yum! My husband and I are addicted to adding Laird Superfood creamer to our morning coffees and were devistated to run out last week before our next shipment arrived. In our Laird-less time, I added a splash of local eggnog to my coffee and it was such a delicious and festive treat – highly recommend!

    Sending you all warm wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season :)

    • KA says...

      Eggnog is my favorite creamer! Adding it to chai tea or ginger tea is also a treat!

    • Gaby says...

      I drink eggnog in my coffee all December! I use a ratio if 1:1.

  45. Margaret says...

    Over the weekend I made hot buttered rum. It is one of those drinks you hear about but never would take the time to make. However! all we have is time these days and I have to say I might have a new holiday tradition. What is not to like, warm butter, spices, cream and rum ( and some hot water of course) It was such a fun treat, something to enjoy slowly while watching a movie!

  46. Lena says...

    Also just wanted to say, thank you for continuing to post this week, when other blogs/sites are taking a break. We really appreciate it!!

    • Isabel says...

      I second this!!! Currently waiting for an appointment that I’m super nervous about at the doctor’s office and SO GLAD to have CoJ to keep myself occupied. Thanks CoJ team!

    • Bonnie says...

      Isabel – I hope your appointment went well and you can rest with peace tonight.

  47. H says...

    Funnily enough, I pulled out my golden milk from Trader Joe’s this morning to try for the first time (drinking while I type hahaha) ! I actually added it into a coconut/mango smoothie…. highly recommend!

  48. Pamela Gorsuch says...

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a DALS hot chocolate recipe! Hot beverages are the little joys of my winter COVID days. And while I’m at it, a huge thanks to Jenny for the recipes that have become staples in my household over the years. My kids think the only salmon is Relentless Salmon. They once ordered salmon in a restaurant and were shocked and saddened to discover it wasn’t the DALS version! It’s my go-to for friends recovering from surgery or childbirth, and I’ve come to expect a recipe request the next day. As we speak I’m setting aside the ingredients to make chocolate pudding pie tomorrow!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Thank you Pamela, so nice!

  49. Lauren says...

    I have been making a drink that I lovingly refer to as “mud” all winter for my boyfriend and I. It’s so calming!
    1 tsp reishi powder
    1 tsp maca powder
    1 tsp ashwagandha powder
    pinch of ground ginger
    pinch of cinnamon
    bit of agave/honey
    1 bag of your favorite black tea (really into russian black tea lately)
    Add all to a kinto thermos with some hot water and oat milk. Presto! Mud is served.

    • jane says...

      This is a great recipe – thank you!
      Here’s one of my fav’s in exchange:
      Sweetened vanilla almond milk (sweet vanilla is vital – is not the same without it) and a spoonful of fresh grated ginger, (a scant tablespoon or to taste), heated and served in a mug. Far more comforting than it sounds, at least to me.

    • Ana D says...

      Lauren, this is so kind. I’m picturing a life where I make elaborate winter drinks for my husband and me, and it seems idyllic.

      Thanks for sharing your stories, all you folks who’ve been bartending for your households this season.

    • Mims says...

      Lauren, I make something similiar…with homemade soymilk and sunfood maca and mushroom blend. One of the perks of wintertime! hot soy drinks.
      The very concept weirded me out, till a Japanese friend turned my on to it.

  50. Hilary says...

    Love this post! I have a cup of chai mid-morning, and it really is the best part of my day. I joke my entire gratitude log just says “tea” on it. But really, it’s delicious, comforting, and I force myself to stop working during tea time and read/chat with my husband/whatever.

  51. Anna says...

    Love these ideas! With two babies and not being able to leave the house much my afternoon cup of coffee has become the most sacred ritual of all time! I make myself wait until 3pm and start checking the clock at around 1:30 waiting for the hour to come.
    This year, my husband and I really upped our home coffee game and have tried a lot of different methods and beans. I discovered how much I love an old fashioned percolator, storing beans in an airtight container really makes a difference, and buying nice beans locally helps too!

  52. Lakshmi says...

    Haldi doodh (turmeric milk) is made with regular dairy. Almond milk is a nice substitution but it isn’t part of the original preparation, as consumed in India.

    • Lena says...

      I was just going to ask if the turmeric milk could be made with cows milk or even soy milk for more nutrition! So, good to know that’s the original way. Cheers!

    • DC says...

      Might be worth noting that the cookbook that’s adapted from is primarily vegan, too. (It’s on my Christmas list!)

    • Lc says...

      I was coming here to say the same thing! I drink it vegan these days (soy or oat) but growing up in my Indian American household we made it with cow’s milk.

    • Priya says...

      I was going to post the same!!! The traditional haldi milk (turmeric milk) is made with regular cow’s milk.

    • Anu says...

      Jinx – came here to post the same! Cup of Jo – maybe you could modify the article slightly to indicate that? As it reads, it says “the traditional Indian almond milk-based drink flavored with turmeric” which misleadingly implies that the traditional drink uses almond milk – it doesn’t, and almond milk was pretty unknown in India until recently. You could say – the “the traditional Indian turmeric-flavored milk, here updated with almond milk” or something like that. It does come from Meera Sodha’s cookbook, but that was a special vegan one she wrote, so I’m sure she modified the traditional recipe to include almond milk because of that.

  53. K says...

    Literally made peppermint hot chocolate yesterday morning. But here’s what you’ve been waiting for– make half a cup of it, and then pour your coffee in. You can be decadent in the morning, too. :) This is a great way to use all those random candy canes you have if you’re anything like us…