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Archive for the ‘Spices’ Category

Pumpkin Waffles :: Spices

People always think it’s funny how much I love pumpkin everything, but I think I’m mostly just obsessed with the spices in them. They’re the same spices I use in my gingerbread recipe, but I had to adjust the ratios of them as the molasses in gingerbread significantly alters how flavors like cinnamon show through. Really, getting the right balance of spices was the most fun of all the experiments I’ve done with the master recipe.

There are four spices at play: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Ginger is really the base note in the waffles, adding a warm physical sensation in the mouth on top of which its flavor and that of the other spices build. Cinnamon is also present in a large quantity, but dash-for-dash, it’s so mellow compared to the others that it doesn’t affront you.  It also helps give the waffles’ color an even darker more autumnal tone. Fresh nutmeg is some strong stuff, so there’s only 1/5 as much of that as there is of the cinnamon. It’s slightly piney flavor and scent are amazing. And given the intense flavor of cloves, they’re only present at 1/6 the quantity of the cinnamon, but they make for a playful little dance on one’s palette.

For people who like a mellower waffle, I advise that they cut the spice quantities in half. But, for those who love to bask in the flavors of Fall, go for the unedited master recipe. You’re sure to enjoy it.

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Years ago, I discovered the superiority of fresh nutmeg to dried nutmeg, while working on perfecting my gingerbread recipe. It seems like they’d be interchangeable, but it’s truly a world of difference to use it fresh.

The issue is that the process of making dried nutmeg greatly diminishes many of the highly volatile oils it contains. While those oils only make up about 10% of a whole nutmeg’s mass, they make up the bulk of the flavor. Its two main oils are camphor and pinene, which produce its medicinal and pine scents, respectively. By grating the whole nutmeg yourself (with a microplane), you ensure that the nutmeg you’re using has all of its natural flavors intact and in the right proportions to one another.

Freshly grated, nutmeg is fairly fluffy and slightly moist, making it difficult to measure. My ridiculously precise metric pumpkin waffle recipe calls for 0.6g, which works out to 1 tsp. loosely scooped into a measuring spoon. If you measure nutmeg by pressing it into the spoon, then that same quantity works out to a little less than 1/2 tsp. With nutmeg, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. It’s a delicious spice, but extremely potent, so if you’re unsure about how much to use, go for less. You can always scale-up the quantity next time around.

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