Uses of Spices

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Specific uses of spices vary infinitely. Americans love the flavor of cinnamon in cakes; Scandinavians prefer cardamom. Romans flavored cakes and custards with pepper, where others might choose nutmeg. The English like ginger biscuits and ginger wine. The Chinese chewed cloves to freshen their breath, but medieval Europeans chewed mastic. Galanga was reputed to be an aphrodisiac, grains of paradise were believed to make alcoholic drinks seem stronger than they are, and both were frequently included in hippocras. South Asians not only include a wide variety of spices in savory cooking but also add them to sweets; cardamom is an especial favorite. Candied spices are consumed as well, both as a palate cleanser and as an ingredient in sweet paan recipes. See comfits.