I have a valued cookbook in my library by Marcy Goldman, in which she claims that the best thing we can do for our baking is to use really good cinnamon.
Cinnamon is our most important spice in baking. It is the most used and has the most impact. At one time, it was a treasured spice in Europe, a spice for royalty.
Today, we can have a collection of cinnamons in our pantry.
- Korintje Cassia Cinnamon. This is the cinnamon Americans are familiar with and for most of us, our standby. Really good cinnamon has a high volatile oil content and has a pleasant but not sweet taste even on the end of your finger. Cheap cinnamon tastes “mediciney,” almost astringent.
- Vietnamese Cinnamon. This is a delight! It has a much higher oil content; you can taste the cinnamon oil. It is my “go to” cinnamon for apples pies. It’ll stand out against fruit flavors, even raisins. It will absolutely transform many of your recipes.
- Ceylon or Sri Lankan Cinnamon. This is a very mild, almost fruity cinnamon that is popular in Europe. It’s popular with buttery pastries where there is little competition with other flavors.
- Cinnamon Chips. These make a magical difference. I’m only familiar with the cinnamon chips that we sell. You can taste the Vietnamese cinnamon in the chips. That’s what gives them a “burst of cinnamon in every bite.”
- Cinnamon Sauce or Syrup.
Getting the Most from Your Cinnamon
If it is good cinnamon, use a lot of it. If it’s not, don’t use any.
I will often double or even triple the amount of cinnamon that I use in my recipes. That’s especially true when I’m dealing with dominant flavors in the recipe, like apple pie or a cinnamon raisin sweet roll. Snickerdoodles absolutely depend on a quality cinnamon.
Consider adding cinnamon chips to your recipe. Add them along with your ground cinnamon, not in the place of it.
We sell a cinnamon dessert sauce that is very good. You can taste the Vietnamese cinnamon.
We experimented and made our own cinnamon dessert sauce. It was simply a sugar syrup with a little butter added and Vietnamese cinnamon. It was a close replica of the commercial sauce.
Flavors to Pair with Your Cinnamon
Brown Sugar Flavor. This is a surprising flavor. It doesn’t taste exactly like brown sugar, maybe milder, but it is a wonderful complement to cinnamon. If the recipe has cinnamon and calls for vanilla, we usually substitute brown sugar flavor.
Vanilla. This is a classic. Think snickerdoodles.
Caramel. This is absolutely delightful with cinnamon. We sell a couple cinnamon caramel syrups.
Chocolate. Mexican chocolate and Mayan chocolate is simply a dark chocolate with cinnamon added. For me, this works best with Vietnamese cinnamon.