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A Symphony of Spices

I can give you a few good reasons why I am always excited about the fall season hot apple cider, mulled wine, apple pie, pumpkins and the promise of traditional holiday feasts. And now that were into autumn, I am challenging myself to be as creative as possible by experimenting with some new recipes. Although, I can say that challenge is the key word here, in that what I baked the other day was a disaster. I should put out a disaster cake recipe, but I'm sure my readers would avoid it like the plague. So, I'm sticking to what I know how to do best, and that is using traditional spices and making traditional recipes that work.

Since there are so many holiday spices to list, I decided to write about the ones that I mostly use when baking.

Cinnamon is probably one of the most beguiling spices on the planet and has been around for centuries used in countless recipes. But there are different varieties of cinnamon, and one in particular is Saigon cinnamon, which is best for baking as it contains 6% oil, making it the sweetest cinnamon in the world -- the more oil, the sweeter the flavor. In short, you can add cinnamon to just about anything and it will taste great from hot drinks to sweet potatoes to cookies and cakes.


Vanilla pods (beans) versus vanilla extract? What is the difference? If your taste buds are extremely acute, then you will notice the difference in taste. Most of the time, I prefer vanilla pods.

You can use a paring knife to slit the bean or pod lengthwise and then scrape out the seeds. The seeds can be added to butter for making frosting and cookies, or as an ingredient for cake batters or for making caramel sauce or any sweet topping. Taste-wise, the seeds are usually oily and emit an intense vanilla aroma. Vanilla extract is easy to buy and cost affordable. But you need to buy the real stuff and not the imitation extract. However, if you want to splurge, then vanilla beans is the way to go? We make a vanilla sugar that is out of this world. And now, that the Holiday season is in full throttle, I plan on using it as often as possible. Can you imagine what the world would be like without vanilla ice cream? Nah!

This Holiday season we are happy to introduce some new and exciting items: Maple Flakes that we import directly from Canada, which can be used in baking cakes and cookies, cereals, sprinkled over hot drinks, or even added to baked potatoes, or any sweet treat recipe. Maple sugar, which is great for baking and for making rubs, as well as flavoring up home-made salad dressings. Last but not least, Maple cranberry sugar perfect for holiday baking and cooking, for making rubs and adding to salad dressings. Sprinkle some on your favorite festive beverage, such as hot apple cider OMG!

Other new items on our spice roster are Citrus Peels. We now have Blood orange, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit (coarse or ground), Lime (coarse or ground), Meyer Lemon Peel Granules, Tangerine Peel and Orange Peel Seville (Bitter Orange).

Citrus Peels are great for holiday baking or just ordinary baking in general. Combining citrus peel with crystallized ginger is perfect for baking scones, muffins and creating some amazing jams. Add any of the citrus peels to liven up salad dressings for that extra tangy taste.

Here's a favorite recipe that has stood the test of time for every Holiday, and that is my traditional crustless apple pie. I do hope you will try out our newest items for your Holiday meals, and please don't forget about the traditional spices.

Remember to check in for our next Holiday Spice feature Holiday Food With A Twist --using traditional recipes with a touch of new spices.

Crustless Apple Pie -click link for recipe