Zippy Desserts Using Chinese Five-Spice

published Sep 23, 2010
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Chinese five-spice powder is a spice mixture commonly used to season savory meats and vegetables in Asian cooking. It magically captures all five flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty in one tiny jar. That’s cool. What’s even cooler is what chefs, bakers, and bloggers have been doing with it in desserts these days.

Depending on the region or simply the preference of who is mixing up the five-spice powder, there are dozens of variations. Most common is some proportion of bajiao (star anise), cloves, cinnamon, pepper and ground fennel seeds or ginger. Once you get a feel for the spice and what flavors you like most, it’s pretty darn simple to mix up your own.

While it’s often used to season chicken, duck, and stir-fried vegetables we love the idea of amping up your favorite desserts with a pinch and a dash. More and more bakers and pastry chefs are using it in place of nutmeg because it still lends a nice warmth but with more complexity. So next time you’re breaking out your favorite apple, pear, or chocolate recipe, get a little crazy. Break out the Chinese Five-Spice Powder. And if you need a little inspiration or a new recipe, we’ve got you covered.

Get the Recipe:
Asian Five-Spice Chocolate Cake from Epicurious
Chinese Five-Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes from Vanilla Garlic
Chinese Five-Spice Almond Cookies from Whole Foods Market
Black Sesame Panna Cotta with Five-Spice Peanut Brittle from Dessert First

(Image: Laura Letinsky for Bon Appetit)