Showing posts with label cinnamon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cinnamon. Show all posts

Dec 10, 2018

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)

A German and Swiss holiday staple, this cookie has it all: It's spicy, it's chewy, and it's enticingly covered with sweet frosting. Zimtsterne or cinnamon stars are traditionally made in the shape of a six-pointed star, but if you only have a cutter with five points, that's okay too!

This recipe is adapted from my good friend Cyn's blog, Home Cyn Home. My longtime friend Cyn is a Swiss national living in Mumbai with her Indian husband, adorable daughter Ishita, cute cat Mittens, and dedicated dog Jasmine. Cyn celebrates Christmas by making traditional Swiss treats and lots of fun Christmas crafts. She is also a professional artist and her designs are available on Society6, Redbubble, and Colorpur. Be sure to visit her blog for more easy recipes and craft projects or a hilarious rant on the perils and pitfalls of expat life in India.

Bibi's Kandy-Kolored Raspberry-Flake Streamline Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (My apologies to Tom Wolfe)
So when I first saw this recipe for I thought, "Egg whites and royal icing, hmm, sounds fiddly." But then I picked up this KitchenAid stand mixer while last passing through Delhi and that's what made this recipe a snap! I had my mom's 70's harvest gold and my own late 80's hunter green KitchenAid mixer in California, but did not bring them to Nepal due to voltage issues. (No, this is not an ad for KitchenAid) That whisk beater makes short work of whipping egg whites.! If you don't have a stand mixer a handheld electric mixer will do, but possibly take a few minutes longer. I ground the almonds finely in seconds in my Indian-style mixie.

See that glorious pile of local oranges on the Tarkariwala's cart?
Right now oranges are in season so I used a little orange zest and orange juice to make these cookies halal. Kirsch is the traditional flavoring but I'll bet Gran Marnier would be delicious also. Orange and cinnamon are such a great pairing. Cyn advises putting the royal icing on just after baking rather than before or during as is traditional. I agree as the pure white icing tends to discolor if baked, especially if you have a convection style oven. Be sure not to overbake as the Zimtsternen are meant to be a bit chewy and will taste burnt even if they're just baked to medium brown. Overall, this recipe is a keeper! I love this cookie's festive star shape and snow-like topping.The delightfully chewy, nutty texture and spicy cinnamon flavor are delightfully different. They really are easy to make - especially if you make the dough in advance and then bake and frost them the next day. I love'em! Off to the recipe:

3 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
1 C powdered sugar
2 TBS cinnamon powder
1 TBS of orange juice (or Kirsch)
1 tsp orange zest (optional)
4 &1/2 C or 500g ground almonds (with skin)
extra ground almonds as needed
extra powdered sugar for rolling out dough
gold glitter sprinkles for decorating (optional)
Royal Icing:
1 egg white
1 C powdered sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp orange juice

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. (I use the whisk beater for this step.)

2) Add the powdered sugar to the beaten egg whites and fold until you have a smooth paste. (I switch to the regular beater from the whisk for this step.)

3) Mix in the ground almonds, cinnamon, orange juice (or kirsch) and orange zest and combine as evenly as possible. At this point, you will have a sticky dough. Add some extra ground almonds gradually until the dough sticks to itself but remains soft yet pliable.

4) Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours to allow the cinnamon flavor to develop and the almonds to soak up the moisture. This dough can also be frozen for several weeks before use.

5) When ready to bake make a small batch of royal icing* (directions below) and preheat oven to 180C/350F. Place a large piece of waxed paper on a flat surface and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place the chilled dough on the waxed paper and powdered sugar, lightly sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar and press or roll out to 1/3-inch thick.

6) Using a cookie cutter dipped in water, cut into 2-inch star shapes. Reroll and cut any scraps. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the cookies in the center of the oven for about 10-15  minutes (they should just start to turn brown on the edges). Do not overbake!

7) Spread the royal icing* on the cookies as soon as you take them out of the oven. Ideally, the cookies should still be a bit hot. Sprinkle with gold colored sugar before icing sets if desired. Allow the cookies to cool on a rack. When completely cooled store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Zimtsternen taste best if allowed to stand for 24 hours.

*Royal Icing:
1) Place egg white, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoonful of orange juice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or beaters. Beat until frothy.

2) Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until well blended. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the mixture is stiff and shiny, usually about 3 to 5 minutes. This icing hardens quickly, so be sure to cover it with plastic wrap until you're ready to use it. Gently press the plastic wrap into the surface of the icing to prevent a crust from forming.

Helpful Hints:

Grind almonds quickly and easily in your Indian-style mixie. I did mine in two 250g batches and it took only seconds!

Nov 19, 2018

Bal Arneson's Garam Masala

Bal Arneson, garam masala, Indian, Recipe, spices, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coffee grinder, cumin, easy, nutmeg, pepper, Recipe, spice mix,

Bal Arneson is a TV Host, an award-winning author, a Compass Celebrity Chef, and a well-known culinary personality. This is her recipe for the classic and versatile Indian spice mix, garam masala.

This recipe is adapted from the 2014 cookbook, Bal's Spice Kitchen by Bal Arneson.  Originally from a small village in the Punjab, India, Bal, at the age of seven, learned how to cook from her elders. She has three national bestselling cookbooks Everyday Indian, which won the Asian Cuisine category prize for Canada by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Bal’s Quick and Healthy Indian, and Bal’s Spice Kitchen. Her TV Shows are airing in several countries around the world, including the US Cooking Channel and Food Network Canada. She is the host of Spice Goddess, which was nominated for a James Beard Award and NAMIC Vision Award, and Spice of Life. Bal has been a judge on ‘Iron Chef America’, Bobby Flay’s Dinner Battle, and Cooking with Fire.

I had never heard of Bal Arneson before I picked up this cookbook at Delhi duty-free. I'm not sure if her cooking shows are still airing or not. (The cooking channel we get here in Nepal is still showing 90's reruns from The Naked Chef and Nigella Bites.) I found the above-pictured ad on Instagram so Ms. Arneson seems to be currently popular in Canada. Most of her recipes seem to a fusion of western and Indian. This was the first recipe for garam masala I have tried that I was disappointed in, it is a bit too heavy on the cinnamon/dalchini side for my taste. However, if you are looking for a garam masala that leans to the sweet and spicy heat of cinnamon - this is it! Now I don't dry roast my garam masala (for reasons I go into here) but I've provided two ways to do so in the directions below. Off to the recipe:

6 cloves/laung
4 green cardamom pods/elaichi
3 black cardamom pods/kali elaichi
3 cassia leaves/tej patta, cut into small pieces
2-inch piece cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
1 TBS coriander seeds/dhania
1 TBS cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
1/2 tsp mustard seeds/rai
Here's what to do:
1) Place all the spices in a coffee or spice grinder and grind until to desired consistency.

2) Keep in a sealed airtight and light-resistant container in a cool dark place for up to 3 months.

Two methods to dry roast spices-

1) Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or tawa for 7-10 minutes.
2) Dry roast spices one at a time in batches, or toss all spices in & stir frequently until spices give off a fragrant aroma.
3) Allow to cool completely. Grind coarsely using pulse button in mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.
(The problem with this traditional method is that the temperature isn't really even over a tawa on a gas flame & some spices may scorch while others remain unroasted.  Cumin usually roasts faster than the other spices & when burned has an unpleasant bitter flavor. Roasting spices separately reduces the risk of scorching but is tedious. Why do South Asians still do use the traditional tawa method? Because most South Asians do not have any sort of oven in their homes.)

Fast & easy oven method-
1) Preheat oven to 220F/100C.
2) Spread all spices over 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan or cookie sheet. Bake spices for 10 minutes.
3) Allow to cool completely and grind coarsely using pulse button in a mixie, food processor, or coffee grinder.  Store in an airtight container out of sunlight.

Have you ever seen any of Bal Arneson's television shows?
What is your favorite garam masala recipe?

Apr 2, 2018

Madhur Jaffrey's Garam Masala

madhur jaffrey, recipe, garam masala, easy, indian, coffee grinder, spice mix, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon,

There are as many versions of garam masala as there are home cooks in India. This recipe for the versatile and aromatic spice mix is from the famed cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey. "Masala" means "spices" while "garam" means "hot," which refers to the body-warming properties of the spices in Ayurvedic medicine.

Madhur Jaffrey
For those of you who don't know who Madhur Jaffrey is - she's a Delhi-born actress credited with bringing Indian cuisines to the Americas with her debut cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking (1973). She has written over a dozen cookbooks and appeared on several related television programs, the most notable of which was Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery, which premiered in the UK in 1982. Her recipes are not always authentic due to their being written for western home cooks and what would be available in a western supermarket in the 70's and 80's. But they are always beautifully written, easy to follow, and can be relied on to taste great!

Ms. Jaffrey's recipe for garam masala is quite lavish in its use of spices yet quite practical. Costly green cardamom takes center stage in this vibrant mix while the less expensive but equally flavorful cumin, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg are the supporting cast. This does not taste anything like the garam masala you'd typically buy readymade! No cheap fillers like coriander or fenugreek in this blend. Ms. Jaffrey has also scaled this recipe down to the perfect amount that will easily fit into an electric coffee grinder like you'd find in a western kitchen too. This is the perfect recipe if you wish to make just a few servings of this bold, versatile, and traditional spice mix.

1 TBS green cardamom/elaichi pods
1 tsp cumin/jeera or black cumin/shahi jeera seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns/kali mirch
1 tsp whole cloves/laung
1-inch piece of cinnamon or cassia bark/dalchini, broken into pieces (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg/jaiphal or allspice

Here's what to do:
1) Place all the spices in a coffee or spice grinder and grind until to desired consistency.

madhur jaffrey, recipe, garam masala, easy, indian, coffee grinder, spice mix, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon,

2) Keep in a sealed airtight and light-resistant container in a cool dark place for up to 3 months.

madhur jaffrey, recipe, garam masala, easy, indian, coffee grinder, spice mix, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon,

Helpful Hints:
The original recipe specified cardamom seeds. I do not have the patience to sit there and peel an entire tablespoonful of green cardamom pods. Plus my frugal Prussian farmer and Scots-Irish cheapskate genes will not let me toss those gorgeously fragrant and EXPENSIVE green pods. So I just grind them up too!

Madhur Jaffrey does not recommend dry roasting this garam masala so I don't. Works for me! I usually end up frying or cooking whatever I'm using the garam masala in anyway.

Jun 1, 2017

Mexican Chocolate Snowballs

mexican chocolate snowballs, mexican, chocolate, cookies, vegan, egg free, eggless, cinnamon, chili, almonds, easy, recipe, vegetarian,

These Mexican chocolate snowballs are a spicy twist on an old favorite with almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, and a pinch of chili powder. Buttery, delicately spiced, and rich with chocolate flavor this egg free recipe can easily be made vegan too. A simple to make treat to serve on Cinco de Mayo or any holiday! 

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I love the way the Mexicans spice their chocolate with a little cinnamon and a hint of chili. So when I saw this recipe on Allrecipes a few weeks ago I had to make it. It was absolutely delicious! I did make a few changes though. The original recipe called for ancho chili powder, a little less sugar, and dark chocolate chips. I didn't have ancho chili powder so I used degi mirch or cayenne powder. Ancho chili powder has a bit less heat than cayenne and a slight fruity flavor, but the chili flavor in these cookies is so subtle I didn't find it made a difference. If you can't handle any sort of chili heat I'd substitute paprika for the chili powder or simply leave it out. I bumped the sugar up to the amount I use in all my snowball cookies. Dark chocolate chips were recommended for use in this recipe. Unfortunately, I did not have dark chocolate chips so I used milk chocolate chips. Although these cookies were delicious with the milk chocolate and regular cocoa powder I used, I think using dark chocolate chips and dark cocoa powder would make them even more delicious! I think the next time I make these I'll grind up a dark chocolate bar and use it in place of the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. To make this recipe vegan-friendly just substitute a good quality vegetable margarine or shortening for he butter. Off to the recipe:

1 C butter, softened (use margarine or vegetable shortening to make these vegan)
3⁄4 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp cayenne powder/degi mirch or Kashmiri mirch (for less heat use paprika)
1⁄4 tsp salt
2 C all-purpose flour
2⁄3 C toasted almonds, finely chopped (optional)
1⁄3 cup dark chocolate chips
To roll cookies in after baking: 
1/2C powdered sugar
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Here's what to do:
mexican chocolate snowballs, mexican, chocolate, cookies, vegan, egg free, eggless, cinnamon, chili, almonds, easy, recipe, vegetarian,

1) In a large mixing bowl beat together butter,  powdered sugar, vanilla,  cocoa powder,  cinnamon, chili powder, and salt until creamy and well combined.

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2) Add flour, almonds and chocolate chips to butter mixture. Continue to mix. Dough will be crumbly at first but after about 2 minutes it should pull together and stick to itself. When dough forms a large ball and sticks to itself it's ready. Chill dough covered with cling film in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/165C. Form tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place balls of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake cookies for about 18-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom being careful not to over bake. Cookies will harden as they cool.
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4) In a large shallow bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until combined.

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5) Cool cookies about 5-7 minutes then roll in sugar mixture while still warm. Cool completely on wire rack then roll cookies in sugar mixture again if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Helpful Hints: 
Chilling the dough is important as it allows the flavors of the chocolate and spices to develop as well as making the cookies easier to shape.

Keeping the dough wrapped in in a plastic bag or cling film while chilling prevents it from drying out and absorbing other flavors from the fridge.

Substitute a good quality margarine or vegetable shortening for the butter to make these cookies vegan.

Dec 20, 2016

Persimmon Cookies

Persimmon cookies recipe spicy soft easy fuyu hachiya nutmeg cinnamon cloves

Spicy, moist, and tenderly soft these persimmon cookies are truly a Fall and Winter treat! Lavishly laced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, raisins, and walnuts this recipe is full of the flavors of the season. So simple to make and the easiest answer to the question, "What do you do with persimmons?"

Fuyu persimmons which can be eaten at the semi soft stage. 

You can use any type of persimmon for this recipe as long as it is ripe. Unripe persimmons are quite astringent and bitter tasting due to their tannic acid content. Ripe persimmons are quite sweet and mild in flavor.  If you are using the round Fuyu type persimmons as shown in the photo above you can use them when they've softened to about the firmness of a ripe tomato. If you are using the oblong, heart or acorn shaped Hachiya type persimmons you'll have to wait until they've ripened to the mushy pulp or jelly-like stage. A quick way to ripen any type of persimmon is to stick then in the freezer overnight. When you allow them to thaw the next day they'll be perfectly soft, sweet, and ripe!
Hachiya persimmons which must be allowed to ripen to mushy, jelly-like stage before they're edible.
This recipe uses pureed persimmon pulp. To make persimmon puree you can simply use a fork to mash them in a bowl or a mixie, food processor, or blender to puree them instantly. If using a mixie, food processor, or blender simply remove the stems and any debris and put them in the appliance skin and all. You might want give the persimmon flesh a bit of a going through before pureeing as there might be seeds. The seeds can be rounded like plum stones or oblong like date pits. Your mixie, food processor, or blender will NOT puree these rock-like seeds. You will hear them quite loudly bouncing off the blades and mixing container of your appliance.

And there you have it! Beautiful orange persimmon pulp ready to be eaten as is, enjoyed as frozen sorbet, or stored for your next baking project. I usually measure the pulp out by cupful and store it in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Persimmons will keep frozen for up to 8 months. You might see some separation or darkening of the persimmon pulp but the flavor will be the same as fresh.

2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C butter, softened to room temperature
1 C sugar (both brown or white are fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, at room temperature
1 C persimmon puree
1 C raisins or sultanas
1 C walnuts (pecans or dark chocolate chips work well too)

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl beat butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices together until creamy. Add egg and persimmon puree to mixture and beat for about 3 minutes or until smooth.

2) Add flour and mix until combined. Gently stir in raisins and walnuts. The mixture should be a stiff batter. Cover batter with cling film and place in fridge while oven heats up. (Chilling the dough makes for cookies that taste and look better. The chilled batter will be easier to work with and less likely to spread. The extra time will also allow the pectin in the persimmon puree to thicken the batter and make it less likely to spread. this will  result in cookies that are round and puffed up rather than flat and misshapen like fried eggs.The spices will have a little extra time to lend their flavor to the batter too.)

3) When ready to bake heat oven to 325F/160C. Place tablespoonfuls of chilled batter two inches apart on baking trays lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. (I used a tablespoon sized scoop.)

4) Bake cookies at 325F/160C for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove cookies from tray using a spatula. Cookies will keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed airtight container at room temperature. This recipe makes 32 cookies.

Helpful Hints:
For a nut free version of this recipe simply use dark chocolate chips in place of the walnuts. Dark chocolate chips don't sound like they'd work with persimmons but they are delicious in these cookies!

LOOK! It's snowing at the Taj Mahal!
Tacky souvenir begotten at the Taj Mahal by
Mr & Mrs KC&CO on their honeymoon

Alrightey then, so it's BIG FAT DESI WEDDING SEASON over here and we're heading hither, thither, and yon to attend all the festivities until January 2nd! So to all my friends who celebrate I hope you & yours have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See ya next year,

May 5, 2016

Mexican Polvorones (Anise & Cinnamon Cookies)

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Yes, it's Mexican independence day so it's time for a south of the border treat. "Polvo" means powder in Spanish which makes these cookies the powdery ones. Tender in texture and richly redolent with the sweetness of cinnamon and anise, these cookies are are "Que delicioso." This eggless recipe can be made vegan and are so simple to make. Try them as a elegant tea time treat or a tasty addition to any holiday platter. 

Mexican polvorones anise cinnamon cookies recipe cinco de mayo easy

Well, I didn't have a serape or even a pretty Mexican plate to style these cookies on so a lovely gaillardia blossom will have to infer all the vibrancy and festivity of Cinco de Mayo. These cookies get most of their flavor from the spices so be sure to use the best quality cinnamon and anise you can find. I prefer to use whole ground anise or anise oil as they are superior in flavor to the extract. The fat used plays an important role in both the texture and flavor of these cookies. Traditionally lard gave these cookies their powdery texture but I prefer butter, a high quality margarine, or vegetable shortening. Ground pecans or walnuts are also a traditional ingredient of polvorones depending upon region so you can add a cup of those also for extra rich cookies.

1 C butter, margarine or vegetable shortening
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp ground anise or anise extract, or 1 drop anise oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 C flour/maida
1 C ground pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/4 C granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp ground cinnamon for dredging

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon, anise, vanilla, and salt.

2) Gradually mix in flour. Add pecans if using.  Dough will pull away from the mixing bowl and cling to itself when ready.

3) Chill dough wrapped in cling film or Ziploc bag for at least 3 hours or overnight,

4) When ready to bake preheat oven to 350F/180C.  Roll dough by tablespoonfuls into balls. Place on parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and slightly flatten with palm of hand.

5) Bake cookies for 18 to 25 minutes turning baking sheet halfway through baking time.

6)  When cookies are baked through and slightly browned on the bottom remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking with spatula.  If desired roll in 1/2 C granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes 20 cookies.

Helpful hints:
You don't have to chill the dough. However, chilling does improve the flavor and will make the dough easier to handle and less likely to spread when baked. Less spreading and perfectly shaped dough will make for prettier cookies. You can also keep this dough frozen for up to a month until ready to use.

Dec 22, 2015

Ingredient of the Week: Dalchini, Cinnamon stick, or Cassia bark?

This is what is called dalchini or referred to as a "cinnamon stick" in South Asian cooking:

A bit thuggish & crude in appearance compared to the cinnamon sticks of the western world.
It's actually the dried bark of the Cinnamomum tamala tree. Yes, it is from the same tree as 'tej patta' or Indian bay leaf.
True cinnamon sticks, powder, and dried flowers of the Cinnamomum verum plant.
It is definitely not the same as those tightly rolled & thinly layered cinnamon sticks you see in western countries. Those delicate, rolled cinnamon sticks you see in western countries are 'true cinnamon' which comes from the Cinnamonun verum tree (also called Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon).
A small Cinnamomum tamala tree whose dried bark is called "dalchini."
Cassia bark (or dalchini as it is called in Desi-dom) has a stronger, almost peppery bite compared to its sweeter, subtler, & more aromatic Sri Lankan cousin.  Cassia bark/dalchini also stands up to the intense heat of the pressure cooker or kadhai better than the delicate Sri Lankan cinnamon quills. The spicier, peppery notes of cassia bark/dalchini suit savory dishes like curries & stews better than it's sweeter cousin also.

A mature specimen of the Cinnamomum tamala tree
Personally, I prefer to bake with ground cassia bark/dalchini rather than true cinnamon as I like a spicier punch to my cakes, cinnamon buns, cookies, and quick breads. If you are using cinnamon to enhance the natural sweetness of strawberries, cherries, or fruit pie fillings (as many Scandinavian, Swiss, Ukrainian, & German recipes do) then I'd choose to use the Sri Lankan or true cinnamon. My Swiss friend in Mumbai, Cyn, will attest to this. You can check out Cyn's blog at
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