Celebrate Christmas Eve with a Cup of Glögg (Recipe)
Posted on : December 24th, 2018
In many cultures, Christmas Eve is the traditional time to celebrate the holiday, gathered around the tree and opening gifts with family and friends. And what better way to warm up the celebration than with another Christmas Eve tradition—a hot cup of glögg! Pronounced glue-gh in Sweden, where the tradition is thought to have originated, the word means “to glow.” And glow you will if you have the spicy alcoholic version!
Glögg is a variation on mulled wine, another Christmas tradition you can find almost everywhere that Christmas is celebrated. The drink goes back at least to the Middle Ages when it was known by the name of Hippocras. It was named after an invention of Hippocrates that was used to make it, and it has always been thought to be good for your health. King Gustav I of Sweden is credited with bringing the drink to the Nordic region under the name glodgad vin and that name was later shortened to glögg. It is quite similar to other mulled wines that are simmered with a variety of holiday season spices. But this drink is best served with a spoon. That’s traditional, too, as in Scandinavian countries almonds and raisins (and sometimes dried figs, orange peel, prunes and/or ginger) are almost always served on top.
Glögg can be served without alcohol—it is often made with grape juice or black currant juice instead of wine. But if you’re going for the full glow experience, be prepared. In Sweden, glögg can have as much as 22% alcohol content! Sugar and spices are traditionally infused into the alcohol after being heated on the stove by sitting at least an hour, if not overnight, in the refrigerator. After that, you strain out the spices and add your blanched almonds and fruit(s). It is always served warm but be sure not to boil it! (Why go to the trouble of adding wine if you’re going to boil the alcohol out?)
Feel free to experiment with this recipe! I think there must be as many variations on this as people who drink it. Some like it super sweet, some not; some super spicy, others not as much. The type of spices varies quite a lot (although cardamom is pretty close to essential). And the amount of alcohol? Let’s just say that I went for the middle on that! Your desires may differ.
- 1 750 ml bottle red wine (claret is sometimes recommended)
- 1 750 ml bottle of your choice (or mix) of brandy or Swedish Aquavit
- 3/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
- grated peel of 1/2 orange
- 15 cardamom seed pods or 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 2-3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 cup raisins (dark is preferred) or combination of raisins, figs or prunes
- 1 cup almonds (blanched, whole or sliced)
- Combine the wine, brandy or Aquavit, sugar, orange peel, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, ginger and cloves in a 2 to 3-quart pot. Heat to 175 F (approximately — just make sure it’s not boiling) and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand at least 1 hour. (Or put it in the refrigerator overnight once it has cooled.)
- Strain out the spices.
- When ready to serve, add almonds and raisins (or fruit combo), and warm in a pot over low heat.
- Serve warm. Some people like to garnish with a slice of orange.
This is obviously enough for a decent sized party. If you have leftovers, remove the almonds and fruit and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
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