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Seasonally Spiced

Cake, cookies, pie, and more take on a new warmth in flavorful sweets
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photo: Scott Phillips

There’s no clearer sign of fall than those ubiquitous pumpkin-spice lattes. Of course, pumpkin spice is just a mix of cinnamon, ginger, and other sweet spices usually used in baking. They’re delicious together, but also worth exploring individually. They pair beautifully with fall fruit (apples, pears, pumpkin) and make your kitchen smell delicious and cozy.

  • Recipe

    Star Anise: Red Wine Poached Pears

    A spice as fragrant—and as beautiful—as star anise deserves a more prominent spot on our spice shelves. The star-shaped spice is the dried fruit of a small Asian evergreen tree that’s a member of the magnolia family. Harvested when it’s still green and unripe, it’s dried in the sun, where it develops its red-brown color and a sweet, warm flavor that’s reminiscent of licorice, clove, fennel seed, and aniseed (although it’s botanically unrelated to any of these spices).

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  • Recipe

    Cinnamon: Cinnamon Toast Shortbread Cookies

    Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices. But are you using true cinnamon or its more common relative, cassia? Only your spice merchant knows for sure; often both are ­labeled and sold as cinnamon.

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  • Recipe

    Cloves: Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding

    Cloves are sharp flavored, packing spicy depth and piquancy. Born of an evergreen tree, cloves are indi­ge­nous to Indonesia but are also cul­tivated in Malaysia, India, and Mad­a­gascar. The higher the quality, the more likely this nail-shaped spice will have its budlike head intact.

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  • Recipe

    Allspice: Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

    Indigenous to Jamaica, whole allspice berries look like peppercorns but taste like a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, hence the name. Famously used in Jamaican jerk seasoning, allspice delivers a nutty, slightly bitter flavor. It’s often used in whole form in pickling and to infuse liquids. Finely ground allspice is often used in concert with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in baked goods.

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  • Recipe

    Cardamom: Lemon-Cardamom Sugar Cookies

    Intensely aromatic, sweet, complex, spicy, beguiling, heady—these all describe cardamom, a spice that appears throughout classical Indian cuisine. Cardamom is also used extensively in the Middle East to flavor coffee, and thanks to the Vikings’ 11th-century presence in Constantinople, it often appears in Scandinavian breads, cookies, and other baked goods.

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  • Recipe

    Ginger: Pumpkin-Ginger Tunnel Cake

    The dried and ground version of fresh ginger, dried ginger has an earthy flavor that’s a natural with other baking spices like cinnamon or nutmeg and is what gives ginger snaps and gingerbread their familiar warm flavor. Though less potent than its fresh counterpart, ground is also used in savory cooking, often as a component in spice mixes.

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  • Recipe

    Nutmeg: Drambuie Caramel Apple Cider

    Nutmeg comes from the nutmeg tree, which grows in tropical climates and ­actually yields two spices. The ­crinkled, hard nutmeg nut itself is encased in a lacy scarlet membrane, which, when dried and ground, ­becomes mace.

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