How to Choose the Perfect Cinnamon for Your Recipe

Ground cinnamon is a very common ingredient, but it can be delicious as some of its varieties come from Vietnam. These varieties are more expensive than their counterparts and it is difficult to know if they are worth the money.

To find out if the gourmet cinnamon is worth the extra money, Cook’s Illustrated tried eight different varieties (half from Vietnam and half from unknown origin). They were then tested by “adding to chilled rice pudding, baking cinnamon rolls, sprinkling and baking cinnamon sugar pita chips.”

It turns out that there is a noticeable difference between the varieties of cinnamon, but only in “raw” applications:

The tasters got the burn of many Vietnamese cinnamon when they tried sprinkling them with rice pudding, but that heat almost disappeared when we tried the cinnamon baked in cinnamon rolls and pita chips. In fact, the tasters struggled to spot any differences in these baked goods, deeming every product acceptable except for one outlier (more on that in a minute).

In short: if you’re baking, just about any cinnamon will do, since cinnamaldehyde – the compound primarily responsible for the spicy flavor of cinnamon – is extremely unstable in the presence of heat. If you’re going to sprinkle it on rice pudding or other cold dishes or drinks, choosing the “right” cinnamon is really a matter of personal preference. If you like “big, spicy flavor,” Cook’s Illustrated recommends Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon Ground, but if you like a milder, sweeter flavor, Morton & Bassett Spices Ground Cinnamon is your best bet, with a “moderate heat and complex bouquet.” floral, woody and earthy aromas ”.

Cinnamon shopping | Illustrated chef


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