Food wise, cinnamon has a vast range of possible uses – from beverages, bakery and confectionery to meat processing. Not only is it one of the most treasured spices but it also has numerous health and medicinal qualities especially in the practice of aromatherapy. Also, it may surprise some to learn that cinnamon is also a great moth and ant repellant and that it can provide relief from insect bites.

Baked Products & Sweets

Snickerdoodles

IMG-Snickerdoodles-001

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbl of Cinnamon
  • 8 Tbl of Sugar (vary to taste)

Mix shortening, sugar and eggs until creamy. Add remaining ingredients a little at a time and hand beat to a heavy textured batter.

Place dough in refrigerator to chill (about 1/2 hour) and pre-heat oven to 400°F.

While dough is chilling, mix sugar and cinnamon together and put in a tray with sides so that you won’t lose any of the wonderful sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Form dough into a balls (no more than a teaspoon-full) and roll around the cinnamon-sugar mixture until covered. The longer you roll, the more intense the flavor. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and cook 10 minutes, or until top turns golden brown.

* Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Cinnamon Buns

IMG-cinnamon_buns-001

Dough:

  • 1 packet active dry yeast (0.25-ounce)
  • 250 ml or 1 cup warm milk (105°F/ 40°C)
  • 125 grams or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 75 grams or 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 440 grams or 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 200 grams or 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons ground ceylon cinnamon
  • 75 grams or 1/3 cup softened butter

Glaze:

  • 114 grams or 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 188 grams or 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 85 grams or 3 ounces of softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Dough: In a large mixing bowl add the sugar and yeast to the warm milk and mix well. After 5 minutes, add the melted butter, flour and eggs. Once those ingredients are incorporated together in a batter, then mix in the salt. Dust a flat surface with a small amount of extra flour and knead dough into a large ball. Do not overknead, otherwise the gluten strands developed in the dough will result in a tough finished product as we learned when first trying this recipe (we used a Kitchen Aid mixer on level 4 for 4 minutes which was too long. We recommend kneading this wet dough by hand). Return to bowl, coat with a thin oil or release spray to prevent a pellicle forming and cover. Let dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Remove dough from bowl and roll out on a lightly floured surface until dough is 53cm long x 41 cm wide by 6.5mm thick (21 inches long x 16 inches wide x 1/4 inch thick). Do not roll out the dough to thin as this can also have an adverse effect on the finished product – leep to to 1/4 thick minimum (a little too thick is better than a little too thin in this case).

Filling: In a small separate bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the butter evenly over surface of the dough and cover with cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Roll dough from the top (21-inch side) to bottom edge. Make sure you roll the dough fairly tightly and do not forget to pinch the tag end of the dough to the roll body or it will come undone when you cut it. Cut rolled dough into 1 3/4-inch slices and place on Silpat or a lightly greased baking sheet (leave about 2 inches or 4 cm between each).

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
Bake for about 20 minutes or until light brown.

Glaze: While rolls are baking, combine remaining butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy and add a little water to get to loosely thick and smooth consistency (we use a spray bottle to accomplish this – it disperses the water throughout the mixer bowlquickly incoporating the water and does so in small, relatively controllable amounts). Use a spatula to place/spread the glaze on the hot rolls. The residual heat from the hot rolls will further liquify the glaze. It is at this point they can be served. Once the buns cool the glaze will solidify (they fine to eat in this state as well).

Makes about 12 rolls (depends on how dough is rolled and cut).

Apple Crisp

IMG-apple_crisp-001

Sweet soft apples, mildly spiced, with crisp, brown cinnamon crumbs on top. Serve with either heavy cream or Vanilla Ice Cream.

  • 5 cups peeled and sliced apples
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 pound butter, in small pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 1 1/2-quart baking dish, spread the apples in it, and sprinkle the water on top. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bow, and rub the butter with your fingers (messy but fun) until it resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.

Blueberry Buckle

IMG-blueberry_buckle-001

Serve with vanilla and cinnamon ice cream.

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries, drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter

In a mixing bowl, cream 1/4 cup butter with 3/4 cup sugar until light and airy. Blend in the egg. In another bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately with milk to the creamed mixture. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into a greased and floured 8×8-inch pan.

To make the topping, combine the remaining sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over batter in the pan. Bake in a 375° oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Place the pan on a rack to cool. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Serves 6

Apple Cake w/Caramel Glaze

A fresh apple cake topped with a caramel glaze

  • 1 cup light-brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 fresh apples
    (such as Winesap or Granny Smith), peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups not-too-finely chopped pecans
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light-brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Make the cake

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

2. Put the sugars and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and beat until very well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and gradually add to the sugar and eggs, mixing just until well blended.
3. Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla, and pour into a buttered and 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

4. Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours (begin checking after 50 minutes). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan while you prepare the caramel glaze.

Make the glaze

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add both the sugars and the salt. Stir until blended, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

2. Use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake, and pour the warm glaze over the surface. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cardamom Carrot Cake

a Cinnamon spiced Cardamom Carrot Cake…

(serves 24)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

  • 1/2 lb shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 TBSP fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 pistachios, chopped
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp true cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt, 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Frosting:

  • 2 8 oz cream cheese blocks
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch rectangular cake pan with parchment paper.

Combine carrots, coconut, raisins, ginger and pistachios. Set aside. Whisk flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar together until light in color. Gradually eat the oil into the eggs and sugar. Slowly whisk in the sour cream. Fold in the dry ingredients and then fold in the carrot mixture. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until set.

Frosting: Whip heavy cream until peaks are formed. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in another bowl until well blended. Lightly blend cream cheese mixture and the heavy cream.

Apple Muffins

Official New York State Apple Muffins:

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine ingredients and set aside.

Muffins – Makes 2 Dozen

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups apples, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda, and set aside. Combine apples, raisins, walnuts, eggs, butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, to the apple mixture. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix. Portion the batter into muffin pan. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

La Cannelle Watalappam

Watalappam is a delicious coconut custard. Though it is of Malay origin brought by Malay slaves, it has become a traditional Sri Lankan dessert. It is a thicker, richer version of caramel pudding using coconut milk and jaggery. Jaggery is the solidified sap of the kitul palm flower. If you cannot find jaggery, you can use ordinary palm sugar as a replacement. If you cannot find palm sugar then you can use brown sugar. There are varying grades of jaggery – the best is pure and unadulterated without added cane sugar.

* If you are intent on obtaining real jaggery, please contact us and if we have any available we would be glad to sell you some.

  • 8 eggs
  • 3/4 lb. (300 g) grated jaggery
  • 2 cups (500 ml) thick coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom powder
  • 1/2 cup (25 g) cashews, chopped

1.) Beats eggs well in a bowl;

2.) Add the other ingredients and mix well;

3.) Strain and pour into a stainless steel mould;

4.) Cover with foil and steam for 30-40 minutes in a double boiler until done (the water should not boil but simmer gently until the pudding is set);

5.) Remove from heat and allow to cool; and

6.) Refrigerate 5-6 hours before serving.

Cinnamon Plum Fool

  • 1 3/4 pounds red or black plums (about 6 large), pitted, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, divided
  • 10 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant)ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Puree 2 1/4 cups plums and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor until smooth. Strain fruit into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract puree. Discard solids. Thoroughly combine remaining diced plums, 3/4 cup puree and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside remaining plum puree.

Beat cream, remaining 7 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in another large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into diced plum mixture.

Spoon some plum puree into eight 1-cup transparent glass. Top each with some plum-cream mixture. Drizzle each lightly with more plum puree, top with remaining plum-cream mixture and any remaining plum puree.

Coconut Cinnamon Cake

Plantation House Coconut Cinnamon Cake

  • 2 Cups freshly grated coconut
    (or 1 and 1/2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut moistened with warm milk)
  • 1/3 cup (55g) glutinous rice flour
  • 1/3 cup (55g) plain rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (60g) white sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Ceylon cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a deep bowl and knead for 3 minutes or until the dough is smooth and does not stick.

Dust a cake pan with some rice flour and press the dough into the pan. Bake at 180° C or 350° F for about 35 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Jaggery Cinnamon Rice Cake

“La Cannelle Jaggery Cinnamon Rice Cake”

  • 1 cup (200g) of uncooked glutinous or sticky white rice
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 1 Pandan leaf or rampe (if available)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) jaggery syrup*
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) coconut cream
  • 1/2 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt

Rinse the rice very well under running water for 2 minutes and soak for 4 hours. Rinse again until water is clear. Place rice , 1 cup (250ml) of water and pandan leaf in a rice cooker or steamer† and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.

Add the palm sugar syrup, coconut cream, salt and cinnamon and steam for 15 minutes. Spread the rice evenly (about 1 inch or 2 and 1/2 cm thick) on a tray and allow to cool to room temperature. Wet a sharp knife with warm water and cut into even squares to serve.

To expedite the soaking process, pour boiling water over the rice and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and then again pour boiling water over the previously soaked rice.

* If you do not have Sri Lankan kitul honey or jaggery, you can use palm sugar. To make jaggery syrup, combine 2 cups of chopped jaggery or palm sugar with 1 cup of water and 2 pandan leaves. Bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, strain and refrigerate if not using immediately.

If you do not have a rice steamer you can easily make one. Just line a colander with a clean tea towel or cheese cloth. Place the colander into a larger pot with simmering water (water should not touch bottom of colander) and you will have a good rice steamer.

Cinnamon Raisin Cornbread

This is a very simple recipe which we love to serve on the plantation house veranda with afternoon tea. However, it is also very nice with dinner or breakfast.

  • 1 and 1/2 cups corn flour
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 5 – 6 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (to your taste)
  • 6 tbsps granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsps melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup light honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups of raisins

Preheat your oven to 375° F or 190° C.

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk thoroughly. Combine all the wet ingredients is a separate bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and incorporate to a thick batter consistency by folding. Do not overmix to avoid developing the gluten in the dough. Incorporate the raisins.

Pour the batter into a 9 inch cake tin. Either use a release spray on the bottom and sides or butter and flour the sides of the tin.

Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the bread comes out cleanly.

Sauces and Chutneys

Spiced Plum Chutney

  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 2-inch piece of a cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 2-inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds of quartered and pitted red, black, green or blue plums

Finely grind star anise, clove and cinnamon stick in spice mill or coffee grinder. Combine spice mixture, vinegar, sugar, ginger, mustard seeds and pepper in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Add plums and reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chutney thickens and chunky sauce forms. Stir occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool. Add salt to taste.

Tropical Dried Fruit Chutney

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup imported dry Sherry
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch dice dried mango (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch dice dried papaya (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup 1/2-inch dice dried pineapple (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a heavy medium saucepan. Add bean, sherry, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add all dried fruits and return to simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer until sherry is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in enough pineapple juice (by the tablespoonful) to moisten the chutney. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. Chutney can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Remove vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and star anise from chutney. Mix in cilantro and serve.

Charcuterie

Quatre Epices

A classic French blend of spices used extensively in charcuterie – particularly sausage making. It consists of pepper, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon (and sometimes ginger). There is no need to buy expensive jars of this expensive spice mix imported from the continent as you can easily make your own.

A general recipe is 7 parts of pepper and one part each of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Spice purveyors have their own blends so there is no one quatre epices – therefore, you should feel very comfortable experimenting with your own special blend based on your own proportions.

At La Cannelle, we like our quatre epices proportioned as follows:

  • Black pepper – 125 grams
  • Cloves – 10 grams
  • Cinnamon – 20 grams
  • Nutmeg – 35 grams

Not only is quatre epices used in sausage making and other charcuterie it is fantastic with mustard and brown sugar or jaggery to glaze a baked ham. It is also very good in mashed potatoes (if used judiciously).

You can use a dedicated coffee grinder to grind your own spices. It is always better to buy whole spices and grind yourself – they will be fresher and have a much longer shelf life.

Beverages

Mulled Wine

Everyone loves mulled wine. It is so easy to make it can be enjoyed often. It is a perfect drink when the weather gets cold and need not only be served during holidays.

There are many ingredients with which wine may be mulled, so we only give our version here. Do not be afraid to experiment with different flavours – there are no rules and a recipe is only a guideline.

  • 1 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (you can use a different varietal)
  • 5 tsps or 20 grams cinnamon chips (break cinnamon sticks in to chips)
  • 1.5 tsp or 6 grams dried ginger (you can you fresh ginger slices of equal weight)
  • 3 or 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp or 1.5 grams mace
  • 1/2 tsp or 2 grams cardamom
  • 6 grams of dried orange or lemon peel broken or cut into 1-2 cm pieces (you can use fresh orange or lemon peel if you do not have dried but double the amount)
  • 1 washed, unpeeled orange cut into slices
  • 5 Tbsps of granulated sugar

Place all ingredients except sugar and orange slices in a piece of cheese cloth and, wrap and tie securely to make a sachet.

Pour wine into a pot, add sachet, sugar and orange slices. Keep heat on medium low to bring wine to a simmer. DO NOT let boil. Simmer for 2 minutes or until wine is warmed (do not exceed 72 deg C or 160 deg F) and turn off heat. Let steep for 5-8 minutes then serve.

Café de Olla

Café de Olla (Mexican Coffee)

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, piloncillo if available
  • ½ to 1 quill of Ceylon cinnamon (to taste)
  • 5 tablespoons finely ground coffee

Method:

In a medium earthenware pot or saucepan, heat 1 quart of water. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Just before the water starts to boil, add the coffee, stir well and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the coffee through a fine sieve and serve in earthenware mugs.

Te de Canela

Te de Canela (Cinnamon Tea)

For 2 cups of tea

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces water
  • 1 quill of Ceylon cinnamon
  • Sugar or honey, if desired

Method:

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the cinnamon and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 8 to 10 minutes, covered. If desired, add sugar or honey to taste.

Mayan Hot Chocolate

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 chili pepper cut in half, seeds removed
  • 5 cups light cream or whole or nonfat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 cinnamon quills
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate or 3 tablets Mexican Chocolate (cut into 1/4-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or honey, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine
  • Whipped cream

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chili pepper to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove chili pepper; strain water and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and sugar or honey; whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves. Turn off heat; remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Add chili-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn’t too strong. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk.

Serve in small cups and offer ground almonds or hazelnuts and whipped cream.

Angelina Cafe’s Hot Chocolate

  • 6 ounces fine-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 3 cups hot milk, divided
  • Sugar to taste
  • Whipped cream, if desired

In a double boiler over low heat, combine chocolate and 1/4 cup water until melted, stirring occasionally; stir until smooth.

Remove top of double boiler pan from. Whisk in 3 tablespoons hot water. Pour into pitcher or divide among individual 4 mugs. Either stir 3/4 cup hot milk into each mug or serve milk in a separate pitcher. Pass sugar and whipped cream in separate bowls; add to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Cioccolato Caldo

Cioccolato Caldo (Italian Hot Chocolate)

Italy is famous for their Cioccolato Caldo, especially during the fall and winter months. This hot chocolate is sometimes served as thick as a pudding – this recipe doesn’t make it so thick. The luxurious richness comes from using top-quality chocolate.

  • 5 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate
    (at least 70% cacao solids), finely chopped
  • 2 cups milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, add the cocoa powder, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the milk, Heat until the sugar melts and no lumps remain, stirring well. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly; add the remaining milk. Turn off the heat, add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth.

Pour into serving cups.

Mexican Hot Chocolate I

In central and southern Mexico, people commonly drink chocolate twice a day year-round. Having a layer of foam on hot chocolate is as important today in Mexico as it was in ancient times. Mexicans believe the spirit of the drink is in the foam.

  • 6 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces unsweetened Mexican chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon quills (for optional garnish)

In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, chocolate, ground cinnamon, and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the milk is very hot. (Do not let the milk come to a boil.)

Beat 2 eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir in one cup of the hot mixture into the eggs, then return this mixture to the saucepan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more over low heat, still stirring.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat until very frothy. Pour into mugs, garnish with cinnamon quills, and serve. Makes about 6 (8-ounce) servings.

Mexican Hot Chocolate II

  • 4 (1-ounce) squares of Mexican Chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling and Cinnamon quills for garnishing

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, add the Mexican chocolate, honey, hot water, salt, coffee, and chili pepper. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to boil; reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring constantly, for approximately an additional 1 minute. Carefully stir in the milk and let sit over low heat until the chocolate is too warm to touch (you can see the steam rising from it).

In a medium-size bowl, beat the egg until it is as frothy as possible. Add the vanilla extract and beat in well.

Pour the hot chocolate mixture over the frothed egg and beat it vigorously for about 15 seconds or until there is about 1/2- to 1-inch of foam on top.

Pour into cups or mugs to serve. Sprinkle some ground cinnamon over the hot chocolate once it is in the mug and add a cinnamon quill to garnish.

Savoury

Butternut Squash Soup

A Smoky, Butternut Squash Soup with Serrano Ham & Cinnamon

The sweetness of the squash contrasts with the salty, smoky Spanish ham and paprika in this gorgeous soup – a Ceylon cinnamon quill is the anchor that balances the savoury and sweet flavours. When the cooked squash and other ingredients are puréed, the soup is transformed into a smooth and rich masterpiece.

To serve 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Ceylon cinnamon quill
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
  • 2-ounce slice of Serrano ham, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot, smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 small orange

Method:

1. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, garlic and cinnamon stick in the olive oil for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, until the vegetables are soft and the cinnamon releases its fragrance;

2. Add the squash and sauté until it begins to soften (about 7-8 minutes);

3. Add chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until squash is very tender (about 15-20 minutes) and then remove cinnamon quill;

4. Ladle soup mixture into a blender or food processor, in two batches if necessary, and purée until smooth and creamy;

5. Return to the saucepan over very low heat – add salt and white pepper to taste;

6. Stir one teaspoon of orange zest into the soup – do not add too much as the flavour should be a subtle hint; and

7. Ladle soup into individual bowls, sprinkle each serving with minced chives, a pinch of smoked paprika and chopped ham. Serve hot.

Estofado de Pollo

Estofado de pollo (Spanish Chicken Stew with Capers and Olives) combines old world ingredients, such as almonds, sesame seeds, olives and capers; new world chilies and tomatoes; and eastern spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns. Once toasted, ground, pounded and puréed, their flavours are married by simmering together to make the exotic sauce in which the chicken is cooked.

Though not technically a Oaxacan mole, Estofado de Pollo is made in a similar way. If you don’t have a grinding stone, a blender or spice/coffee grinder can be used to grind the spices. Either way, the burnished reddish-orange sauce has vibrant layers of flavour -fiery chilies, rich nuts and seeds, sweet vegetables, all perfumed with Ceylon cinnamon and cloves. Tomatillos, which are used in this recipe, look like small green tomatoes in a tan, papery husk, but they are actually members of the gooseberry family.

To serve 8

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 pounds tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 large tomatillos, husks removed
  • 3 red ancho chilies, dried, stemmed, seeded and deveined
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tablespoons lard, sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 head of garlic, cloves separated
  • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 to 3 whole cloves, or to taste
  • 1/2 quill of Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or a pinch of dried
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut into 8 pieces
    (reserve back and neck, and feet if possible, for stock)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, with 1 tablespoon of the juice
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup pickled/brined Serrano chilies

Method:

In a heavy 4-quart stockpot, boil about 1-1/2 quarts of water. Add the tomatoes and tomatillos and cook until they just change color, about 8 minutes. Reserving the water, remove the tomatoes and tomatillos to a colander, and when they are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins. Set the tomatoes and tomatillos aside.

On a medium-sized dry griddle or cast iron frying pan, toast the ancho chilies over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until the skins blister and bubble and they give off their aroma. Remove from the heat and place them in the leftover hot tomato water to soak for 20 minutes. Set aside.

In an 8-inch cast iron frying pan, fry the sesame seeds in 1 tablespoon oil over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool, and grind, bit by bit. Set aside. In the same frying pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and fry the almonds, raisins, garlic, onion, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, oregano and thyme over medium heat until brown and the onion is transparent and aromatic. Set aside to cool.

Place the tomatoes, tomatillos and soaked chilies in a blender with 1 cup of chicken stock. (Divide into two batches if necessary.) Blend for 3 minutes. Pour the tomato and chile mixture through a food mill or sieve to remove any seeds and the chile skins. Set aside. Blend the almonds, raisins, onion, garlic and seasonings in the blender with 1-1/2 cups chicken stock until smooth. Set aside.

In a heavy 6-quart pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and brown the chicken pieces well, but do not cook them through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan. Pour off all but 1-1/2 tablespoons of the oil and fry the tomato and chile mixture with the seasoning mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the ground sesame seeds and stir until well incorporated, about 10 minutes. Return the chicken to the bubbling sauce and continue cooking over low heat, covered, for 20 minutes more. Add the remaining 1-1/2 cups chicken stock, thinning it so that the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the capers, caper juice and olives to the sauce. Let the chicken simmer, covered, 15 minutes more.

Add salt to taste. Place the Serrano chilies directly into the sauce just before serving or put in each bowl as a garnish. Serve immediately with fresh corn tortillas, rice, corn bread or really any other bread to your liking.

Couscous w/Cinnamon & Bay

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt (if using unsalted broth or stock)

Over medium-high heat, sweat the chopped onion in the olive oil. When it turns translucent, add chicken broth, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and parsley. When the broth starts to bubble, add the couscous, turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 9 minutes. Remove from heat, but leave cover on for another minute. Fluff with a fork, remove cinnamon and bay leaf, and serve.