As the chill of autumn gives way to the cold of winter, hot, comforting drinks are what we reach for when cold fingers need warming up. Choices can get a bit tricky if you're lactose intolerant or just don't fancy milk, so here are a few comforting dairy-free hot drinks for a cold morning.
Hot Mulberry Cider
I love a good hot cider on a cold morning, but plain old apple cider can get a bit boring after a while, so I like to mix things up with different fruit juices. Last year my favorite was hot cherry cider made with cherry juice and spiced with star anise. Then I tried hot plum cider spiced with cloves and found it delicious. This year my favorite is hot mulberry cider. Rather than make it with mulberry juice, I use a mulberry syrup I made earlier this year. I just pour a tablespoon or two of the jewel-tone red mulberry syrup into a heat-proof glass, then add hot water and stir. It is heavenly on a cold morning.
If you don't fancy mulberries, make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar/honey and water heated until the sugar melts) and simmer it gently with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries, then bottle it to make your own hot berry cider throughout the cold winter months.
Coconut Milk Latte
If you like a creamy hot drink but can't handle traditional dairy products, try using coconut milk instead. Get an inexpensive frother and keep it on hand to make decadently creamy hot drinks without the dairy side effects. When using coconut milk remember that it is naturally sweet so you won't need to add sugar, honey, maple syrup, or any other sweetener to your drink. Make your coffee, hot chocolate, or hot tea, then heat up your coconut milk, whip it up in your frother, and pour it gently into your drink so that the lovely foam stays intact. You can also try nut milks such as almond or hazelnut, but I find they don't froth up quite as well as coconut milk.
Honey Spiced Black Tea
Another cold weather hot drink favorite of mine is taking simple black tea and adding a hodgepodge of flavorings to spice it up beautifully, then sweetening it with a dark, local honey. This is especially nice when I don't want the heaviness of a milky tea. I like adding a citrus zest of some kind; lemon, lime, or orange are all lovely options since they bring both flavor and fragrance to the tea. Then I'll choose a dried whole spice or herb of some kind such as star anise, licorice root, cardamom, or cinnamon quills. Sometimes I choose all of them just to see what happens. Next I'll add dried fruit such as cherries, apples, or cranberries, or a few hazelnuts or almonds. They all add distinctive notes and make each pot of tea unique.
What is your favorite comforting dairy-free hot drink for a cold morning?