Nothing fights the seasonal chill better than hot cider—and if it’s spiked, all the better. The perfect fireside companion, this mulled version by Lonny favorite Diana Yen benefits from the addition of pear juice, ginger, star anise, and brandy, and partners flawlessly with the savory-sweet crunch of apple-and–goat cheese tarts drizzled with thyme-infused honey.
GINGER APPLE-PEAR CIDER
4 cups apple cider
4 cups pear juice or nectar
zest of 1 medium orange, removed in large strips
1 (3-inch) piece ginger, sliced
2 pears, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
4 whole cloves
3 star anise, plus more for garnish
2 cups brandy
Place the cider, pear juice, orange zest, ginger, pears, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise in a large pot. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Stir in the brandy and pour into heatproof mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and star anise.
Apple Tarts with Goat Cheese and Thyme Honey
Serves 6–8; yields 16 tarts
5 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup honey
2 Granny Smith apples
juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 large egg
flour, for dusting
1 (17-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 small (4-ounce) log goat cheese, crumbled
Special equipment: 2½-inch round cutter
In a small saucepan, warm thyme and honey over medium-low heat until honey just begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Discard thyme and let honey cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Core and thinly slice apples. In a small bowl, toss apples in lemon juice, cardamom, and a splash of water to keep from browning. Set aside.
Crack egg into a small bowl and whisk with 2 tablespoons of water. On a flour-dusted board, roll out puff pastry to about ¼-inch thick. Use round cutter to cut out 2½-inch circles and remove excess dough. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Score each round with ½-inch border and brush inside with honey. Scatter goat cheese on each pastry round. Top with apple slices and drizzle with honey. Brush edges of pastry with egg wash. Bake tarts for 25–30 minutes, until golden brown.