The Sweetest Thing: Sweet Spices from
Around The Globe
Did you know sweet spices are
well traveled, highly prized foodie delights that make even the most untrained palette
These spices grace our
favorite cakes, cookies, custards, pies and ice creams. They are versatile and can be used in both sweet and
savory dishes. The most famous sweet spices include but are not limited to cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
Cinnamon is native to Sri
Lanka. It is harvested from the secondary layer of bark in young cinnamon trees. This bark is then finely
ground ,turning the bark a light brown, freeing up the natural mild aroma and taste. This delicate spice is
enjoyed in cakes and pies as well as curries. It's versatility and mild flavor enhances both sweet and
Nutmeg is native to Banda
Island, Indonesia and is made from the kernel of a the tropical tree found there. When used whole and freshly
grated; the kernel should be the size of a peach stone and firm to the touch to avoid crumbling. Nutmeg
works well with pumpkin, cream, milk and orange based desserts. A butternut squash bisque with a hint of
nutmeg is also delicious.
Allspice is native to the west
indies is the most unusual of the sweet spices. Allspice begins as unripe green berries that are allowed to
sun dry. During this process they turn a rich dark brown resembling a large peppercorn. However it's
curing process isn't the unusual factor. It's the flavor of this spice that gives it it's name. When
smelling it the senses are led to believe this spice is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Allspice is a versatile ingredient adding depth to barbeque sauces, gingerbread, chutneys and
Cloves hail from Indonesia
and the the aromatic dried flower buds of the clove tree. Cloves have a strong flavor and aroma and can
be use either ground or whole. While cloves are used in a number of Indian dishes, my favorite use would be
in indian chai which is a spiced tea.
Vanilla, my all time favorite
of the sweet spices was originally cultivated in Central America from the Central American Orchid. However,
vanilla is now cultivated is 5 areas of the world, Madagascar, the South Pacific, The West Indies and Central and
South America. The curing process for the tastiest vanilla beans can take up to 3
At the end of the curing
process, we are left with a black aromatic pod filled with sticky black beans. These beans enhance the flavor
of custards, coffees, creams and ice cream.
Sweet spices add a richness to
cooking that can't be matched by other ingredients. Their versatility and depth of flavor can bring out the
best in any dish whether it be sweet or savory. The sky is the limit with this group of spices let your inner
chef reign and use each one of these spices in your favorite chicken, curry, barbeque sauce, salad or
dessert. You can't go wrong with any of the sweet spices.