Herbs and Spices for Your Desserts

Without spices, your desserts would lack the flavor, punch, and sparkle that you’ve come to expect. Experimenting with different spices will create desserts that help you think out of the box. If you’re looking for new ideas on how to use herbs and spices in your desserts, consider the following suggestions.

Allspice: Allspice gets its name because it offers a taste similar to cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The dried spice berries come in whole or ground form. The spice is ideal for spice cakes and cookies. For pies, use in plum, peach and apple creations. Allspice also works well in flavored breads and steamed puddings.

Anise: The small seeds of anise add a licorice flavoring to cookies, cakes and breads. This spice comes in dried whole seeds or a powdered form. Examples of desserts with anise include Anise Biscotti and Anise Mousse served with tropical fruit.

Cardamom: You tend to see cardamom used in a lot of Indian dishes, but the fragrant, cinnamon-like seed can add pizzazz to your breads, spice cakes, and cookies as well. Use the spice in apple and pumpkin pies. Consider making Cardamom Rice Pudding or a rich carrot pudding for your next dessert.

Cinnamon: The spicy bark of the cassia tree offers a sweet, hot flavored spice for desserts – especially apple pie served during the holidays. Other desserts that benefit from cinnamon include spice cakes, cookies, custards, and other fruit pies.

Cloves: With a pungent and sweet flavor, clove is a spice that often emerges during the winter holidays. The dried whole buds and powdered form adds flavor to spice cakes, cookies, quick breads, and fruit pies. Try making Apple Butter Tarts or Greek Baked Stuffed Apples with cloves.

Fennel Seeds: Offering a slight licorice flavor, fennel seeds are a favorite for Scandinavian bakers who add the spice to their cakes, cookies, and breads.

Ginger: Adding aroma and tang to desserts, ginger is a versatile spice that appears in many cultural sweet treats. Depending on the recipe, you may use dried ground, dried whole, preserved, crystallized, or fresh ginger. Ground dried ginger is used to flavor cakes, cookies, custard, and fruit pies. Cakes and cookies (such as ginger snaps) blossom when crystallized and preserved ginger is added.

Mace: The outer covering of nutmeg is called mace, which offers a similar yet slightly milder flavor than nutmeg. The spice works well in spice cakes, cookies, and custards. Try adding to fruit desserts – especially those made with peaches, plums and apples. Mace Pound Cake could become your next crowd pleaser.

Mint: The refreshing scent of mint adds a cool, flavorful taste to desserts. There are more than 30 varieties of mint, including peppermint, apple mint, and lemon mint. Use in various fruit salad and dessert recipes, such as Mint Chocolate Pie and Peppermint Ice Cream.

Nutmeg: Nutmeg offers a sweet, nutty taste that livens up cookies, cakes, pies, custard, and pastries. The spice is also a flavorful component when making eggnog. Add to your pecan or sweet potato pie recipe. Since ground nutmeg quickly loses its flavor, it is recommended to purchase whole nutmeg and grate when needed.

Poppy Seeds: What is a lemon poppy seed muffin without the poppy seeds? A flower produces the tiny, blue-black seeds that can be used when making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries. Interestingly, it takes 900,000 poppy seeds to make a pound. Sometimes, the whole seeds are ground into a paste that serves as a filling for some desserts.

Saffron: Swedish bakers add the fragrant spice to cakes and breads. Doesn’t Pears Poached in Saffron Vanilla Bean Syrup sound delicious?