I also love spiced apple ciders in fall. They are the perfect chilly night drink, don't you think? My store carries a locally pressed cider that is so sweet and delicious on its own, but I love it when a little spice is added to it. Unfortunately, most syrups in the stores contain HFCS, caramel coloring and/or dairy by-products, so I prefer to make my own. It's so simple, too!
I made mine to be similar to a Cinnamon Dolce syrup, except I used regular sugar instead of the brown sugar that would give it the "dolce" flavoring. If you like that extra silky, molasses-y flavor, use dark brown sugar in place of the regular sugar. It will give the syrup a darker color and it will taste a lot like the store bought version, but healthier!
Cinnamon Spice Syrup
makes about 1 1/2 c. syrup
1 c. water
1 c. cane sugar or dark brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 star anise
1 cardamom pod
In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add spices. Let stand for 10 minutes, then remove star anise, cardamom and cloves. Continue steeping the cinnamon for another 10 minutes, then remove the sticks. The spices can be reused, but will need to steep just a few minutes longer for each extra use. Pour syrup in a bottle or mason jar to store. The syrup will keep for a few days to room temperature, but will keep much longer in the fridge.
To make a spiced apple cider, combine 1-3 tbsp of syrup per 8 oz of heated cider or apple juice. I like to use my milk frother to really mix it well and to add a little foam on top. Top with whipped cream, if desired.