There’s no bigger baking season than the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the best time of year to celebrate traditional family recipes that are as nostalgic as they are delicious. Whether you are making pies or cookies, these recipes would not be the same without the traditional holiday assortment of spices. Here are just a few that no holiday chef should find himself or herself without.
Nutmeg comes from the seed of an Indonesian evergreen tree and is a perennial favorite of holiday bakers. While it is most potent when freshly grated, most grocery stores also sell a powdered version that will work as a substitute. Nutmeg is a common ingredient in sweets like pumpkin pie or hot chocolate but also compliments savory cheese or potato dishes.
Cinnamon is perhaps the most common of all spices associated with the holidays and comes from the bark of an evergreen tree that is rolled and dried into sticks. Like nutmeg this spice works just as well with savory dishes like eggs and poultry as it does in more traditional recipes like apple pie.
Cloves are derived from the flower buds of the clove tree and add a wonderful spiciness to a number of holiday dishes. They are commonly found in glazed ham, sweet potato, apple and pumpkin dishes, and in many homes are even used as holiday decorations.
Ginger is available in both fresh and powdered form and adds a complex flavor to a variety of dishes. The fresh variety is a great addition to vegetable dishes such as squash, artichokes and sweet potatoes and provided the base for any gingerbread dish.
While its flavor is similar to regular anise, star anise has a unique flavor all its own. It is most commonly used to enhance poultry and seafood dishes but can also be used in sweet items, especially those made from tropical fruits or pumpkin.