Three Recipes for an Olde English Christmas (page 2)

Three Recipes for an Olde English Christmas

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Updated on Nov 6, 2008

Here We Come A’ wassailing

This carol is all about wassail, proclaiming love and joy not only to the listener but to their wassail, too. The term “wassail” dates back to 5th century England and refers to a hot, spiced wine used for drinking toasts on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night celebrations. Special wassailing songs—carols actually called wassails—were also part of the old English holiday tradition and conveyed musical wishes for good health. The carolers, often poor, carried bowls of the hot drink and offered sips to potential donors.

While old-fashioned wassail would be far too alcoholic for children, this delicious version is made with apple cider and will make your home smell super inviting with its spicy aroma.


  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 12 small apples (crab apples or lady apples)
  • ½ cup sugar or to taste if cider is tart
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger or 2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  1. Pierce the apples and bake them in a 350˚ oven until they split. Mash the apples until they form a paste.
  2. In a large pot, preferably enameled, slowly heat ¾ of the cider under warm but not boiling.
  3. In another pot, pour remaining cider and add the apples, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, and bring to a boil.
  4. Combine the two liquids and pour into a heatproof bowl. 
  5. Whip the cream and brown sugar together until the cream peaks.
  6. Spoon the whipped cream onto the wassail in a punch bowl, or add a dollop to each mug as it is served.
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