Cinnamon is widely used in a broad range of dishes.
It is popularly used for baking, poaching fruits and braising meats. In India, it is a staple addition to most rice and curry dishes.
In China, cinnamon is used to flavor poultry and sauces. South Americans and Mexicans use cinnamon to flavor tea, coffee or chocolate.
Cinnamon offers contrasting flavors – sweet, spice and warm.
It is good to know some of the spices that blend well with cinnamon.
While this is purely a matter of taste knowing some combinations will make you a more versatile cook.
The following are some of the spices that blend well with cinnamon.
Cinnamon tastes good with the following products:
- Sweet potatoes
Varieties of Cinnamon
There are different varieties of cinnamon which have differing flavors.
The choice really depends on each taste preference of each individual or the dishes for which it is being used.
Ceylon cinnamon is called ‘true’ cinnamon and it has a light, delicate flavor with a hint of citrus.
China or Cassia cinnamon is widely available in North America.
This has a sharper and bitterer flavor than Ceylon cinnamon but is said to offer many contrasting flavors. This variety is often used for baking.
Indonesian Cassia (‘Korintje’) cinnamon has a strong, bitter flavor – more pungent than Chinese cinnamon. It is said to blend well with coffee.
Then there is Cassia cinnamon from Vietnam – called ‘Saigon Cinnamon’ which is stronger than the other cassia varieties and has a spicy-sweet red hot flavor.
You can even find various blends of cinnamon and other spices available commercially. Keep a few varieties and try them with various dishes.
For example, ‘Pampered Chef’ has a ‘Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend’ available online. This product is a fragrant blend of various sweet spices like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange peel.
It can be used to make muffins, pumpkin pies, apple pies, and cookies. A dash of this super spice blend will enhance the taste of applesauce, eggnog or rice puddings.
Store cinnamon in a cool, dry and dark place, in a tight container.
The fragrance and flavors should last for at least a year or more if stored correctly.
Ground cinnamon powder can be used directly as a topping or in pie fillings or batter.
Use cinnamons sticks if you wish to infuse a subtle flavor in liquid recipes for syrups, custard sauce or hot cider.
Some other recipes which use cinnamon are:
- baked goods
- five spice powder
- barbecue sauces
- berbere [spice mixture]
- poached fruit
- mole sauce
- roast meat
- lamb dishes
- fruit dishes
The spices that may not blend with Cinnamon
Some cooks love to experiment. While there are a few spices and food products mentioned above that go well with cinnamon, some people may like to try newer combinations.
So, how will we know which spices do not combine well with cinnamon? This basically depends on individual preferences.
The above-mentioned spices have been tested with cinnamon and blend well with it.
If you wish to test other spices, there is a simple method to do so. Just take small amounts of a mild cheese – e.g. cream cheese.
Take various combinations of cinnamon, other spices, and herbs and mix them with the cheese.
Label each blend so you know exactly which combination and in what proportion you used.
Leave this aside for at least an hour.
Then sample the various blends, making a note of how they taste to your palate.
A seasoned cook will be able to identify which combination will taste good for baked dishes, curries, roasts, which go well with fruits, or other products.
This is a good way to find out which spices mix well with cinnamon and which do not.
What if you are allergic to cinnamon?
Some people may be allergic to cinnamon.
If you are one of those, you can replace cinnamon with another spice and still enjoy your favorite dishes. Some spices blend well together.
An allspice powder tastes very similar to cinnamon and can be a substitute.
Combine allspice powder, cloves, and nutmeg and you will not miss cinnamon. Both nutmeg and cloves have similar sweet and earthy flavors to cinnamon.
Mace is another good cinnamon substitute which has a less sweet and spicier flavor.
Cinnamon is often used in baked dishes, desserts, ice creams, cakes, and sweet dishes.
For those who cannot use cinnamon, replace it with fresh or an extract of vanilla beans, nutmeg, star anise, caraway seeds, anise seeds or fennel seeds for these recipes.
To provide a spicy flavor to your dishes, replace cinnamon with ginger root for baked dishes, chili powder for curry or rice dishes. For ethnic Indian recipes, a combination of various spices is used in cooking curries, meats, rice dishes and so on.
You can make your own spice powder combination using the following and leave out cinnamon if you are allergic to it:
- black pepper
- celery seed
- cayenne pepper
- bay leaves
- black pepper
There are hundreds of recipes online which use cinnamon combined with other spices.
You can even select the combination of spices you wish to use and get a list of recipes that use them.
Cinnamon is a unique spice for it is warm, sweet, spicy and tingly all at once.
This is why it tastes good when used in sweet and spicy dishes, combined with fruits, nuts, milk and a host of other products.
So, learn the right combinations and whip up some fantastic cinnamon recipes for the family.