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Wassail Days in the Town of Frisco

The weeklong event celebrates a traditional warm Old English apple cider. Bonus: four wassail recipes!



Photos by Todd Powell Photography

Wassail Days, an annual wintertime festival, returns to the Town of Frisco December 4 through December 13. The weeklong celebration of the winter and holiday season celebrates wassail, a traditional warm Old English apple cider. Over the years, Frisco’s Main Street businesses have worked to perfect their own iterations of this holiday staple, collectively serving more than 5,000 complimentary cups to guests each year.

This year’s Wassail Days will showcase more than 60 local businesses, each sharing their own special wassail recipe over the 10-day festival; guests will then have the opportunity to complete their “12 Sips of Wassail” card, and vote for their favorite recipes. 

In addition to the wassail contest, the festival will also include a vast array of holiday activities, including caroling up and down Main Street; a town Christmas tree lighting, during which the entire Main Street is lined with more than 500 luminaries to provide extra holiday magic; visits by Santa at the Frisco Historic Park Museum; The Soup Cup Classic, in which local restaurants and amateur chefs compete for the title of “Best Soup,” as judged by guests and attendees; and lastly, the second annual Ugly Sweater Challenge, in which guests don their ugliest holiday sweaters while attempting five holiday challenges such as target practice with fruit cakes. Prizes are awarded for best ugly holiday sweater, best team of ugly holiday sweaters and best ugly holiday sweater worn by a dog.

For more information on Wassail Days, visit www.townoffrisco.com.

You can enjoy wassail at home with the help of the below recipes, which range from simple and traditional to spiked and flavorful. One recipe utilizes pineapple, orange, and apple juices, while another incorporates Madeira and brandy.

SIMPLE AND GOOD WASSAIL

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts – Apple Cider
  • 1 cup – Orange Juice
  • 1 cup – Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup – Pineapple Juice
  • 3 sticks – Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons – Whole Cloves
  • 2/3 cup – Sugar

Preparation

Combine all ingredients. Heat for 1 hour to combine flavors.

FRUIT, FRUIT, AND THEN SOME FRUIT WASSAIL

Ingredients

  • 1 can (16 ounces) apricot halves, undrained
  • 4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 18 whole cloves
  • 6 cinnamon sticks (3-1/2 inches), broken

Preparation

In a blender or food processor, blend apricots and liquid until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Add pineapple juice, cider and orange juice.

Place the cloves and cinnamon sticks in a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with a string to form a bag. Add to saucepan. (Or place loose spices in saucepan and strain before serving.)

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes. Serve hot in mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.

OH HOLY NIGHT!

Ingredients

  • 10 small apples
  • 10 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 bottles dry sherry or dry Madeira
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 inch stick cinnamon
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup brandy

Preparation

Core the apples and fill each with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Place in a baking pan and cover the bottom with 1/8-inch of water.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until tender. Combine the sherry or Madeira, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon, sugar and water in a large, heavy saucepan and heat without letting the mixture come to a boil. Leave on very low heat. Strain the wine mixture, stirring constantly. Add the brandy. Pour into a metal punch bowl, float the apples on top and serve in 8-ounce mugs.

DEEP, RICH, AND SPICY

Ingredients

  • 2 pints and 1/4 cup brown ale (winter ale and Scottish ale will also suffice)
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 4 apples
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup port
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, pour in 2 pints of ale. Add the cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and cloves and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Take an apple, and score it with a knife around the circumference of the apple. Place in a baking dish. Repeat this step for all of the apples. Cover with one cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of ale, and all of the port. Cover baking dish and place in oven, cooking for 30 minutes.

While apples are baking, place remaining sugar and spices into the saucepan, ensuring it’s well mixed.

When apples are done baking, place entire contents of baking dish into saucepan. Allow to cook over a low heat for another 30-40 minutes.

Serve hot.

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