We all know cinnamon.
It’s that warm fuzzy feeling, cozy spice that reminds me of my favorite dessert from my down
home- life- on-the-little-Saskatchewan-farm background (not too sound too cheesy and clichéd)
Hot homemade apple pie with cold vanilla ice cream… possibly with crab apples.
It can be used for a variety of warm desserts or an interesting dimension of complexity to a spicy savory dish.
For such a popular, well known and recognizably used spice I realized that most people (myself included) do not know some key things about this particular spice
FUN FACT = Boosts Brain Function: Smelling the scent of cinnamon can boost brain activity.
In research reported by whfoods.com, cinnamon “enhanced study participants’ cognitive processing,” with the following activities:
- Tasks related to attention processes
- Virtual recognition memory
- Working memory
- Visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based program
That being said…
There are TWO main types of cinnamon we should know about!
Here’s a fun 5 minute clip explaining these two varieties with an interesting video style in an easy to follow point form format. Trust me, I really did watch the whole thing.
But the main information to gather from this is that between these two varieties Ceylon cinnamon is “true” cinnamon while Cassia cinnamon is more widely available and affordable. Although both Cassia and Ceylon are derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, Ceylon cinnamon is preferred as better quality due to it’s sweet, more delicate and complex flavor and Cassia contains much higher levels of Coumarin which is a substance that may cause liver damage or complete failure in larger doses.
Ceylon VS Cassia
- Made with one thick piece of bark rolled into a hollow tube
- Dark brown in color
- Hard to break
- Strong scent
- Spicy flavor
- High levels of Coumarin (German government once had cassia banned because of this)
- Thin fragile layers
- Light brown in color
- Complex subtle taste
- Refined scent
- Breaks easily
- Low levels of courmarin
FUN FACT = The two main components that make up cinnamon are extremely flammable, so much so that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Board issues warnings for manufacturing plants for the risk of cinnamon explosions.
Here is a video showing just how combustible cinnamon can be.
Now that we’ve learned a few fun things about cinnamon, I wanted to include a couple cool recipes that have cinnamon as a main component.
Spiced Cinnamon Poached Bananas
From ChefSteps.com (love this site)
- 4 each, Banana
- 112 g Butter, unsalted
- 40 g Dark Rum
- 50 g Sugar
- 2 g Salt
- 70 g Raisins
- 2 g Mace, microplaned
- 6 g Green Cardamom
- 10 g Cinnamon, stick
Yield: 12-16 bars
- 115 g unsalted butter, melted
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 125 g all-purpose flour
- 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 40 g old-fashioned oats
- 70 g packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 30 g all-purpose flour
- 60 g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Click here for full instructions – Apple Pie Bars
Optionally you can make them into Salted Caramel Apple Bars by drizzling some home made (or store bought) salted caramel sauce over the squares after baking.
Ceylon Cinnamon can be purchased in Edmonton at Earth’s General Store on Whyte ave!