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Spice Kitchen: Cinnamon Recipes

Seven Tips for Cooking with Cinnamon

  1. Use judiciously.  There is only one rule for cooking with cinnamon or cassia:  Don’t use too much.  Its astringency can overwhelm other flavors, creating an unpleasantly harsh or bitter taste.  Instead, treat cinnamon as a mellow spice, one that will work behind the scenes to bring sweet and savory flavors into a harmonious balance. You can always add more, but keep tasting as you cook.  Once you’ve gone over the line, there’s no turning back.
  1. Whole cinnamon. Use whole cinnamon or cassia sticks to infuse flavor into any dish with a liquid base—tea, soups, stews, braises, puddings, tagines, moles, fruit compotes, tomato sauces.  To coax more flavor and aroma from the cinnamon, dry roast whole sticks or quills in a cast iron pan over medium heat, or fry them in a little hot oil with other spices, before adding them to the liquid.  A Rome apple baked with a cinnamon stick in its hollowed-out core absorbs the spice’s warm, sweetly woody flavor.
  1. Ground cinnamon.  Use ground cinnamon or cassia for baking cakes, cookies and pies, for flavoring ice cream, for making cinnamon toast, and for sprinkling over rice pudding. The most spectacular fried chicken is dredged in flour mixed with black pepper and a teaspoon or two of Saigon cinnamon.
  1. Storage.  Buy small quantities of ground cinnamon or cassia and use it quickly.  The ground spice loses its flavor rapidly.  Cinnamon and cassia sticks will keep for a year or more, as long as they are stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark pantry.  Keep away from heat and light.
  1. Use Ceylon cinnamon when a subtle, warm, woody flavor is desired. True cinnamon is often used in delicate pastries, but also adds vibrancy to soups and stews.  It is the cinnamon of choice in Mexico for moles, Mexican chocolate, and tea.
  1. Use cassia when seeking a more pungent, straightforward “cinnamon” taste.  Great for cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and ice cream; its natural astringency prevents sweet flavors from becoming too cloying.  Experiment with different types of cassia—sweet Chinese, intense Vietnamese, or traditional Indonesian.  Instead of adding more cassia to a recipe, try using the same amount of a more pungent variety.
  2. Experiment with spice combinations.  Cinnamon blends well with other sweet spices—cloves, coriander and nutmeg—as well as spices which are peppery or pungent—licorice, ginger, cardamom, allspice and dried chiles of all kinds.   Cinnamon mixed with any of these spices, plus salt and freshly ground pepper, makes a great dry rub for grilled pork ribs or chops, chicken or duck.



Perfect Cinnamon Toast

Baked Apples with Cinnamon, Walnuts and Maple Sugar

Butternut Squash Soup with Serrano Ham, Smoky Paprika and Cinnamon

Spanish Chicken Stew with Capers and Olives (Estofado de Pollo)

Grilled Pork Chops with Moroccan Tomato Jam

Ruby Ortiz’s Cinnamon Rice Pudding

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Cinnamon and Prunes

Fresh Apple Tarts in Puff Pastry with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Pumpkin Squash in Syrup (Calabaza en Dulce)

Mexican Coffee

Cinnamon Tea