Cinnamon sticks are flavorful and fun in mulled drinks and teas. (Serve each cup with its own cinnamon swirler.) Or combine them with allspice, cloves and ginger to make your own mulling spice.
Cinnamon - that most popular of spices - comes from the bark of an evergreen tree. Cinnamon's sweet, spicy and warm fragrance adds pungent sweetness to your favorite baked goodies. You can also use it to add a depth of flavor to savory dishes as well.
Though often used interchangeably, cassia and cinnamon are not the same. Cinnamomum cassia (grown primarily in China and Indonesia) is reddish-brown and pungently sweet, while Cinnamomum zeylanicum (from Sri Lanka and India) is buff-colored and mild. Cassia is usually preferred for its more intense color and flavor.
Ceylon (Cinnamomum verum)
This cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka (though grown in India, the East and West Indies, and Central America). The cultivated variety grows 8 to 10 feet and resembles a shrub rather than a tree. Most of the product in the U.S. is sold in the stick form.
Cinnamon is the world's most popular baking spice. You'll recognize its familiar taste and aroma in cakes, breads, cookies, breads and pies, dumplings, puddings, pastries and ice cream. It's common in savory dishes, too--soups, chutneys, catsup, pickles, squash, vinegars and meat glazes--and hot drinks like cider, coffee, tea and cocoa.
Cinnamon complements fruits like apricots, cherries, apples, blueberries and oranges. Vegetables, too--especially carrots, spinach and onions--are enhanced by cinnamon's pungent sweetness.
In combination with other spices (like cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, allspice, and black pepper), cinnamon shows up in a wide array of spice blends, including pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, cider blends, five spice powder, curries, pickling spice, even popcorn seasoning!