Well, winter is still in full swing, and one of our favorite ways to beat the chill is to enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa. But let’s face it — having just a plain old cup can be pretty boring, and getting all the flavors you want at the local coffee house can be pretty expensive. Also, enjoying your beverage at home is pretty nice.
So if you’re looking for a few ways to “spice up” your winter drinks, here are a few of our favorite suggestions.
Don’t be afraid to try something a little bit more unique than the standard cream and sugar. Coffee’s robust taste can be complemented quite well by a small dash of cardamom. This spice, used to flavor coffee in the Middle East, adds a surprisingly uplifting flavor.
Another great spice to try adding to your morning brew is cinnamon. This spice adds a depth of flavor — and yes, sweetness that leaves old sugar in the dust. In fact, this combination is a well-known Mexican treat named “cafe de olla.”
Looking to soften the bitterness in your coffee, and sweeten it up a little bit, but don’t want to add more sugar to your diet? A simple solution is this one-two punch. Simply take your mug of coffee, sprinkle in a few grains of salt and a few drops of your favorite extract — vanilla, almond or whatever you’d like. The salt will help bring down the bitterness, and the extract will give you a natural sweetness with a hint of your favorite flavor.
Besides the standard lemon, honey and milk, depending on your type of tea, you can certainly add a whole bunch of different things to make your winter drink more interesting. One suggestion that I have is to add a small piece of white chocolate to your black tea. Once melted, the creaminess of the white chocolate can reduce the natural bitterness, and add a rich body that is completely satisfying.
Is the tea tasting a little bland to you? You probably have something in the fridge that will certainly take it up a notch. A simple splash of fruit juice — any will do, but my choice of cranberry can certainly bring a whole new level of taste to your cup of tea.
Want a warm and spicy drink that is not only a great way to energize but also great for your health? Try brewing your favorite tea with a slice of ginger thrown in. That’s right, ginger. Not only will you get a hint of gingerbread cookie taste (depending on what you add — remember, there are a lot of possibilities), but it’s also a great way to energize your mind and body, and improve your health as well.
Ah yes, the old favorite. Whether you call it hot chocolate, hot cocoa or something else, this favorite winter drink has been around for a while. Over the years, there have been many, many additions to hot chocolate. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions.
A few pieces of orange zest can be a fantastic way to add a bit of citrus flavor to your favorite cup of hot chocolate. Simply zest part of an orange, and allow it to steep in your hot cocoa as it’s being made and cooled. You’ll be surprised at how well the two flavors blend together.
Thinking that your cocoa needs an extra boost of chocolate goodness? Well, if you’re worried about adding more chocolate to the mix, consider adding a sprinkling of salt. The salt will bring out some of the deeper, richer flavors in chocolate, making it that much more enjoyable.
Want to spice your chocolate up a bit? Take a tip from a former Latina neighbor of mine. Sprinkle a bit of chili pepper and a dash of cinnamon in your cup and mix well. The flavor combination is an unexpected but delightful change. Just make sure you go easy on the amount. A little bit goes a long way!
And finally, one of my personal favorites. Simply make your hot chocolate and drop in a small piece of mint candy. It’s easy, makes your hot chocolate taste like a famous girl scout cookie, and you’ll get a final burst of peppermint right at the end. What’s not to love?
What other add-ins to your favorite winter drink do you enjoy? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!