Friday, October 21, 2011

Tools of the Cookie Princess: Spices & Ingredients

Last year I posted about how I find good deals on the common ingredients I use to bake. While I still believe that many of your ingredients can be off-brand and you shouldn't be afraid to stock up when something you use goes on sale, I also believe in using the best quality ingredients you can afford for certain things.

While I don't shop the King Arthur Flour catalog regularly, I do know they carry high quality ingredients that often don't compare to the competitor. When I decided to buy the cinnamon oil last month that I used in my Apple Spice Bars, I did so because I knew I wouldn't find the a similar item of the same quality nearby. Splurging occasionally on the ingredients that make a difference to the flavor of a recipe is something that should be encouraged and I hope you treat yourself to something decadent every once and a while.

When I was at King Arthur Flour, I also picked up Natural Maple Flavor, Fiori di Sicilia and Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion. Each of these items, which I will feature for you soon, is something unique that will bring that extra level of flavor to amp up my recipes.

I'm not saying you have to run out and get these thing because I'll list them in a recipe--where possible I'll give you an alternative--but if you want to treat yourself to something different, why not use something you never thought of before?

Now, as you may have noticed from some of my ingredient pictures, I'm a big fan of Penzey's Spices. Again, they are a quality product and I've never been disappointed. I use their herbs and spices for my regular cooking and they are my go to. I only buy spices and herbs from the grocery store in a true emergency. And because I know I buy quality spices from them, I can trust that I'll get a consistent result.

But just because I like something doesn't mean I can't figure out how to get the same results cheaper. So when I came across a few recipes using pumpkin pie spice, I sighed since I didn't have it and tried to think of an alternative. Then I realized, I could probably make it myself.

I save many of my empty spice jars just in case I decide to concoct something of my own. It might be a rub for a meat or a combo of seasoning for chili or who knows, so I always tuck a few jars in the back of the pantry "just in case." So grabbed one of those jars and a handful of baking spices and came up with this perfect alternative.

Pumpkin Pie Spice


4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger (That jar of ginger is one of those true emergencies. The gingerbread dough was in the mixer when I ran out.)
1 teaspoon allspice or cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a clean jar.

Put on lid and shake to mix well. Label and store.

Makes about 2 1/2 Tablespoons.

The ratio above can be used to make any amount you need. Just use 4 parts cinnamon to 2 parts ginger to 1 part allspice or cloves to 1 part nutmeg.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

Printer Friendly Recipe

Note: King Arthur Flour and Penzey's Spices did not compensate me for this post. They don't even know who I am (but wouldn't it be cool if they did?). I just really like their products.

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