Jan 31, 2019

Let’s Talk About Cinnamon

By MaryAnn Miano

New Jersey Cinnamon Cookie Recipe

Cinnamon has a warm, agreeably sweet, woody aroma that is delicate yet intense. The taste is fragrant with hints of clove and citrus. The presence of something called eugenol in the essential oil distinguishes cinnamon and gives it its note of clove.

The quills of dried bark are rolled one into another to form long, slender, smooth quills (we like to call them cinnamon sticks). Ground cinnamon is widely available, but it loses its flavor fairly quickly, so it’s best to buy in small amounts. Whole quills keep their aroma for two to three years if stored in an airtight container. Look for the Ceylon variety.

Cinnamon’s subtle flavor is well suited to all manner of desserts and spiced breads and cakes. It combines particularly well with chocolate and with apples, bananas, and pears. Use it in apple pie or with baked apples, with bananas fried in butter and flavored with rum, and in red wine used for poaching pears.

Cinnamon also makes an excellent flavoring for many meat and vegetable dishes in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Moroccan cooks use it widely in lamb or chicken tagines, in stew to accompany couscous, and above all to flavor b’stilla, a pie of crisp, layered pastry filled with squab and almonds.

Arabs make a wonderful stew of lamb with apricots, called mishmisheya, which uses cinnamon and other spices, and it plays a role in many an Iranian khoresh (stews with rice). In India, cinnamon is used in masalas (spice mixtures), in chutneys and condiments, and in spiced pilafs.

Mexicans use cinnamon to flavor coffee and chocolate drinks; cinnamon tea is popular throughout Central and South America. When mixed together with cloves, sugar and sliced oranges, cinnamon makes an excellent flavoring for mulled wine.

Cinnamon combines well with cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin, ginger, mace, mastic, nutmeg, tamarind, and turmeric. Not only is cinnamon delicious, it also has been proven to lower blood sugar levels and reduce heart disease risk factors. It’s also a phenomenal anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

Enjoy the following recipe for cinnamon cookies with a cup of tea or coffee.

CINNAMON COOKIES

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 egg

3 tablespoons golden or light syrup

Blanched almonds or walnut pieces

Directions

1. Sift flour, cinnamon, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.

2. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub these into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like bread crumbs.

3. Beat the egg, add the syrup, and beat until smooth.

4. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the egg and syrup. Mix to a smooth dough. If it seems too stiff, add 1 tablespoon milk.

5. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thick, and cut out 2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter.

7. Put a blanched almond or a piece of walnut in the center of each cookie. Put them onto a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes.

The cookies will still feel soft but will harden upon cooling. Let cool on a wire rack.