Ways to Use Spices in Desserts and Baking
Whenever people hear the word "spices", they instantly think of savory dishes like soups and stews. However, the truth is that spices can enhance desserts and baked goods as well.
Here are some ideas for adding a whole new dimension to your sweet treats, using either chocolate or white batter combinations.
1. Chocolate and Spice Combinations
There are a number of ways to add depth of flavor to recipes that call for chocolate.
This awakens the flavor, and pepper is not harmful to blood pressure the way salt is in the latest trend towards salted desserts. Grind it up freshly and add to cookies and cake as you would cinnamon.
A dash of chili powder will take the edge off any really cloyingly sweet chocolate. It is a great match with dark chocolate.
Cinnamon gives a deep richness to any chocolate, from cake to hot cocoa.
Chocolate and ginger are a delicious combination. Use fresh or candied ginger, to experiment with taste and texture in your cakes. Add ground ginger to your cookies for chocolate gingerbread.
Chocolate-lime combinations are a favorite in the UK and the Caribbean. While not technically a spice, adding citrus to baked goods gives them a whole new dimension.
2. White Batter and Spice Combinations
Lemon can make a deliciously tart contrast with the sweetness of your cookies and cakes. It goes well with berries such as blueberry. You can use juice or zest, extract or oil. Note: lemon oil is not the same as lemon extract.
It tastes less artificial but is much stronger than extract, so use one drop at a time.
Lemon and rosemary cookies are a tasty treat for those that like less sweet desserts.
Thyme offers a lemony hint to cookies and works well when paired with lemon zest or oil. Thyme also pairs well with berry-based desserts.
Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, mace
Nothing says fall and the holidays like delicious, spiced desserts. Cookies are easy and fill the whole house with the most wonderful fragrance.
Spice cakes and loaves are easy to make as treats for your holiday table, or gifts to pass along to the people on your list.
These are also the main ingredients in pumpkin pie spice. Mace (which is the outer part of nutmeg) is what give it such a distinct flavor.
Experiment with these in varying quantities and make up your own baking blends. Leave out the mace and you can also create stunning apple pies or carrot cake.
Cardamom is also good in carrot cake and in cookies. If you’ve ever eaten Scandinavian baked goods, you will know the taste.
Cumin and coriander
These spices are often paired together in Indian, Mexican and Thai cooking. They will go well with peanut-based items like cookies, or coconut-based items to take the edge off the sweetness and give a more savory flavor.
Basil works well with berry-based desserts, enhancing their flavor and taking the edge off the sweetness.
What could be yummier than homemade gingerbread or ginger cake?
Most people love the taste of sage in their stuffing, so there’s no reason it wouldn’t go well in loaf cakes and in your next bread pudding.
Add craisins instead of raisins for a whole new twist on this family favorite.
Vanilla also comes from the "Spice Islands", and is perfect for adding flavor to even the simplest sugar cookie recipe.
Mint (Peppermint, Spearmint)
Mint can brighten up any fruity dessert. It’s also a favorite in holiday cookies. The extract can taste a bit too much like chemicals, though.
Peppermint oil can also be overwhelming if you use too much, so one drop or two should be more than enough. Be careful not to overdo it so things start to taste like toothpaste.
Tips for Cooking with Spices
Herbs and spices are a great way to enhance the taste and color of food. They can make almost any recipe more flavorful without adding a lot of sugar, fat or salt. Some even have medicinal properties and can help with digestion, pain relief, healthy circulation, and more.
In addition, they can help you explore new cuisines from around the world. If you want to cut cravings by adding fuller flavor, or get more adventurous with your recipes, here are some tips on how to cook with spices.1. Use fresh when you can
Fresh ginger has a completely different taste from dried and powdered. The herb basil is amazing as the base for fresh pesto sauce to put on your pasta.2. Store fresh herbs carefully
Wrap the stems in a wet paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Place the bag in a cool, dark part of your refrigerator.3. Plan recipes around the fresh herbs and spices
In this way, little will go to waste. Otherwise, you will more than likely forget about them until it is too late.4. Freeze your fresh herbs and spices if you are not going to use them within a couple of days
Make sure they are completely dry and seal in a freezer bag. Moisture would cause them to get freezer burn. Store them in the back of the freezer, not near the door, to avoid them getting a lot of moisture or temperature changes.5. Store your dried spices and herbs in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight
This will help them stay fresher for longer.6. Dried is three times more concentrated than fresh
The ratio would therefore be one teaspoon of dried to one tablespoon of fresh.7. Start with a small amount of spice
Remember, it’s easy to add more, but almost impossible to remove spice if you add too much.8. Buy in bulk only if you use large amount of it
A good example would be cinnamon if you do a lot of baking, or oregano if you make Italian food often. Otherwise, you’re storing spices for a long time in less than ideal conditions such as a glass bottle or tin.9. For quick, foolproof recipes, make your own blends
If you know your own tastes, and your family’s, it’s easy to combine your spices into standard blends you can just sprinkle in. Italian tomato sauce, chili, stew and more couldn’t be easier once you make your custom blends.10. Check out the ethnic food aisles in the supermarket
Trouble finding a certain spice? Check out the ethnic food aisles in addition to the seasoning racks. Chances are, you can find a few more exotic items. Sometimes the containers will be larger amounts, and for less than in the spice aisle.11. To save money, buy more versatile spices
Some herbs and spices are used extensively in particular cuisines, or more than one cuisine. Oregano would be one example. It’s used in dozens of Italian recipes but oregano is also a staple of Mexican food.
Cinnamon is used in almost every cuisine in the world, including Indian and Chinese for savory dishes, and in European and American baked goods.12. Look up quality recipes online to learn how to make your favorite restaurant and takeaway meals
Think how much money you can save, and how much control you will have over calories, fat, salt and more, by learning how to cook them at home.
Go to quality recipe sites and choose the recipes with the highest star ratings.
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Cheers, Helene Malmsio
Related Reading: https://www.discoveryhub.net/how-to-learn-healthy-cooking.html
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