Curl up with a warm mug of this perfectly sweet and spicy mulled cranberry apple cider. One sip and you will see why this should be the official beverage of the season.
Prepare orange slices by carefully studding rind with whole cloves, set aside.
In a high speed blender combine cranberries, ginger, and 1/2 cup apple cider. Blend until smooth. Reserve.
Pour remaining apple cider into a slow cooker or large stock pot. Add cranberry mixture (*optional, pour cranberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth for a smoother texture), cinnamon sticks, star anise and orange slices studded with whole clove.
Star anise is fruit from a small oriental tree, it is tough skinned and rust-colored, and it is picked before it can ripen and dried.
Simmer on low for one hour or alternatively prepare in slow cooker on low for 4 hours
Serve warm with sliced apple and cinnamon sticks.