Kitchn Love Letters

This Sweet Spice Blend Is the Only One I’m Reaching for Right Now

published Dec 5, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman, Styling: Jesse Sczewczyk

Although pumpkin spice might get all the attention through the fall and winter months, it has never really had mine. Don’t get me wrong: I am a big fan of cinnamon and other warm baking spices (not to mention, pumpkin pie itself), but I find the spice blend kind of boring. That’s likely because I was introduced to Kafe Hawaij — a Middle Eastern spice blend of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and clove — a few years ago, and it stole my attention completely.

Specifically, I’ve been using New York Shuk‘s version of the spice blend (they also make this dreamy Rosey Harissa, which has become an instant fixture in my fall and winter kitchen). Whether I am reaching for Kafe Hawaji to use in my holiday baking or stirring it into coffee or hot chocolate, it lends sweet, fragrant spice to everything it touches.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

What’s So Great About New York Shuk Kafe Hawaij?

This unique spice blend hails from Yemen, where it is traditionally stirred into coffee. It’s cardamom-forward, so it’s bright and almost citrusy at first. Yet the back notes of spicy ginger, sweet cinnamon, and earthy cloves round the blend out and make it taste like a warm, extra-cozy hug. All of these things make for a vibrant, wintery cup of coffee, but that’s really only the beginning.

What’s the Best Way to Use New York Shuk Kafe Hawaij?

Like many spice blends, this one is very versatile. Here are my current favorite ways to use this delicious stuff.

  • Spice up your granola. Add a generous spoonful to homemade granola.
  • Add it to your hot chocolate. Just last week, I stirred some into hot chocolate, then dusted a bit more on the whipped cream. 
  • Swap it with cinnamon. Try replacing the cinnamon in your favorite coffee cake. So good!
  • Use it in holiday bakes. Replace the ground spices in gingerbread cookies or these gingerbread blondies for an equal amount of Kafe Hawaij. Speaking of holiday cookies, it’s really wonderful in buttery Mexican wedding cookies, too.

Buy: New York Shuk Kafe Hawaij, $9.95 for 1.9 ounces at New York Shuk

Have you tried Kafe Hawaij? What are you favorite ways to use it?