Christmas Spices

Christmas Spices

CHRISTMAS SPICES

It’s that time of year again and I have started preparing recipes to temp you all into baking for Christmas.  During the month of December, I shall be posting recipes I’ve tried and developed that will fill the house with that wonderfully spiced aroma of Christmas.

Although ready-ground spices are easily available from most stores and very convenient, I really enjoy making my own ground spices as I find that you can achieve a deeper, richer, flavour.  I have learned through trial and error that ground spices offer a much stronger flavour than their shop-bought, ready-ground counterparts, so one should bear this in mind and I tend to (at least) half the quantities in the recipes for home-ground spices. The recipes throughout my blog will refer to shop-bought, ready-ground spices unless otherwise stated and the quantities will have already been adjusted.

My favourite spices for the Christmas period include the following:

Cinnamon

A staple in most kitchens.  I tend to use ready-ground, shop-bought Cinnamon for most uses in baking, although for jams, milk puddings, etc I use a whole cinnamon stick (because it can be so easily removed at the end of cooking).

Cardamom

I tend to use cardamom pods and grind them myself in my trusty pestle and mortar.  It’s hard work, but it is worth it to get such a rich flavour and have the aroma wafting around the kitchen and up the stairs. I split the pods and remove the seeds, throwing away the woody bit that holds the seeds in the pod. 

Cloves

I also tend to use whole cloves and grind them myself when required.  They are incredibly pungent when ground, so take care with the quantities.  As with many spices, add a little and then a little more to achieve the taste you require.

Ginger

I use fresh ginger quite often and love to make fresh Ginger Tea, but as a staple for baking and cooking, I use a shop-bought, ready-ground ginger powder.  I use so much of it, convenience wins with a shop-bought product.

Nutmeg

Ever since I went to Barbados and saw nutmegs growing on the trees, splitting them open and finding the aril strands surrounding the nutmeg, I have been fascinated with this lovely spice.  The aril can be split from the nut and this is what is dried-out and made into mace.  I always finely grate a whole nutmeg when this spice is required in my cooking or baking.  I love nutmeg in milk puddings and in creamy sauces for keto-pasta and baked cabbage.

Star Anise

This is another wonderful spice, used primarily in Chinese and Asian foods, but is also an incredibly aromatic spice used in Christmas baking.  With a very strong aroma and taste of aniseed, this spice should be used carefully.  The whole star can be added to any liquid dish to add an aniseed flavour, as the star can be fished out when the flavour is infused sufficiently into the dish.  However, I also ground star anise too.  It is a very hard spice and so once I have ground as much as I can, I then push the smaller pieces through a fine metal sieve, to ensure I don’t use the larger, insufficiently ground pieces in my cooking.

NOTE: I OFTEN ADJUST MY RECIPES WHEN I FIND NEW INGREDIENTS AND WILL UPDATE THE RECIPES ON MY BLOG ACCORDINGLY (RATHER THAN PRODUCING ANOTHER RECIPE), SO PLEASE ALWAYS CHECK BEFORE MAKING.

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