You might be most familiar with this warm spice, either ground or in stick form, from sweets like apple pie and its namesake breakfast rolls. But cinnamon is a wildly versatile spice used in sweet and savory cuisines around the world.
What Is Cinnamon?
Taste: Sweet, warm, bitter
Most Popular Use: Baked goods, spice blends
True cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree related to the bay laurel. As the bark dries, it curls on itself into distinctive slender sticks, or "quills." Cinnamon is distinguished as Ceylon (or tree cinnamon), lightly-colored with a mild, sweet flavor, or cassia cinnamon, which bears a darker reddish-brown color and more pungent aroma. When purchasing or using a spice simply labeled as cinnamon, this is typically the cassia variety.
As with most spices, whole cinnamon sticks will keep longer and have better flavor than ground cinnamon spice. Store whole and ground cinnamon in air tight container in a cool, dry, dark location.
How To Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon is used in cuisines around the globe, in sweet and savory applications alike, including Indian curries, Scandinavian pastries, Vietnamese pho, Mexican chili spice mixes, Moroccan tagine, as well as, apple pie and snickerdoodles!
Whole cinnamon sticks are best used in braises, for making apple sauce, cider, or mulled wine, and to infuse milk and simple syrups. While ground cinnamon proves most useful in baked goods, spice blends, sauces, and curries, you can also grate your own using a microplane.