Frank’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

Chocolate Cinnamon CakeIf you need a chocolate fix and can’t decide between brownies, cake or fudge- make Frank’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cake and enjoy all three. The cake is dense and moist like a brownie, the frosting is like fudge, and the two combine to create the ultimate chocolate cake. Thanks, Frank!


Frank’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cake


    For the Cake
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons Valrhona cocoa
  • 1/2 cup shortening or coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour, unbleached white or gluten free
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Vietnamese cassia
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • For the Frosting
  • 1 stick butter
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablespoons Valrhona cocoa
  • 1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (optional)


    For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  2. Melt butter in water then add cocoa and Crisco. Bring to boil, stirring well to incorporate the cocoa. Remove from heat.
  3. Mix the sugar and flour together in large bowl, and add the cocoa mixture. Stir well.
  4. Add the buttermilk, soda and cinnamon, stir to combine.
  5. Add the vanilla and eggs, stir to combine.
  6. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. For the Frosting
  8. Begin making the frosting about five minutes before the cake is done.
  9. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, milk and cocoa, and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly until combined.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the nuts.
  11. Stir briskly, mixing well, and spread on cake while both are still hot.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining nuts, chopped ginger and pomegranate seeds on top.


The frosting comes out very thick and hardens quickly so don't make ahead!

If using pomegranate seeds as a topping, wait for the frosting to cool slightly on the cake before adding or the seeds will release their juice. Not an entirely bad thing to have little pools of pomegranate syrup on your cake....

Candied Ginger


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Pumpkin Rolls with Kashmiri Garam Masala

pumpkin_kgm_rolls_pulled_apartTake your cinnamon rolls from simple to sensational with the addition of pumpkin and Kashmiri Garam Masala. When I started looking for a pumpkin dessert, because it is that time of year, the thought of pies, cookies and loaves just seemed…boring. Enter the pumpkin cinnamon roll. I was SOLD as soon as I saw this post on Smitten Kitchen, and in making them found the recipe spot on! I barely adapted it, just a little spice make-over with one of our secret ingredients, Kashmiri Garam Masala, and some maple in the frosting. The results should be illegal. I know I say that about all the desserts, but this one is seriously irresistible.

We opted for maple syrup and buttermilk in the glaze to round out the flavor profile. Next time I think trying coconut oil in place of some of the butter could be tasty, and orange in the frosting. Stay tuned! This one will definitely be back.

Pumpkin Rolls with Kashmiri Garam Masala

Yield: About 16 rolls

Pumpkin Rolls with Kashmiri Garam Masala


    For the Dough
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground Kashmiri Garam Masala
  • 2/3 cups pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for coating rising bowl
  • For the Filling
  • 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground Kashmiri Garam Masala
  • For the Glaze
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Combine the warmed milk with the yeast in a small bowl. Cover, and allow the mixture to sit 5-7 minutes in a warm place, until foamy.
  2. While the yeast is developing, melt the butter over medium-low heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugars, salt and Kashmiri Garam Masala. Add 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg. Mix until just combined.
  4. Change the attachment from paddle to dough hook and run on low speed for 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover. Allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm place; the volume of the dough will nearly double.
  6. While the dough is rising, prepare your pans and assemble the filling.For the pans, line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan and the paper. For the filling, stir the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  7. When the hour is up, transfer the dough onto a well floured surface and flour the top as well. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 11"x16" and brush the top with the remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter. Then spread the filling evenly over the top. It will seem like a lot of sugar. It is. Trust me, just do it.
  8. Roll the dough into a tight spiral, starting with the long edge. Some stuff will fall out, and that's okay. This is not a tidy process. It all ends up in the pan one way or another.
  9. Cut the spiral into 1" slices with a heavy serrated knife using a back & forth motion but no downward pressure at all. Let the weight of the knife do the work and there will be less tearing. Try to keep the slices uniform and no wider than an inch. If you cut them too thick it is hard to get them done in the middle without overcooking the top and bottom.
  10. Place the rolls into the pan so they are touching but not overly tight. I included the cut off tips of the spiral in the pan so every gram could get into the oven. Top them off with the sugar that has fallen out of the rolls during assembly.
  11. Cover the pans with plastic and allow to rise again, about 45 minutes more.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  13. After the rising time is up, bake the rolls for 25 minutes, until the smell is irresistible.
  14. While the rolls are baking, create the glaze. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Continue mixing, and add the powdered sugar, buttermilk and maple syrup. The glaze should be thin enough to brush on. You can thin it by adding more buttermilk one teaspoon at a time to achieve the desired consistency.
  15. Brush the glaze on warm rolls right out of the oven and stand back for the stampede.


If you'd like to make ahead, refrigerate the rolls in the pan after the second rising and bake them the next morning. Remove from the refrigerator one hour before baking.

While the glaze does put them over-the-top, these beauties are so delicious they could stand alone…or with butter…or with maple syrup.

Pumpkin Rolls with Kashmiri Garam Masala

Categories: Asia, Breakfast, Course, Global Cuisines, North America, Recipes, Sweet Somethings | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Southwest Pumpkin Soup


This delicious fall soup is perfectly spiced with warm heat from our Chorizo Bomb and sultry smoke from our perennial favorite, smoked paprika. Cooking your own pumpkin for this recipe is really easy, but the canned pureé works fine as well. Serve it up with crusty bread and a nice porter or stout and you’ve got an instant Oktoberfest!

Southwest Pumpkin Soup


  • 2 medium pumpkins, or 3 cans pumpkin pureé
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 apple or pear, diced
  • 1 ham hock
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Chorizo Bomb, divided
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ cup porter or stout beer


    For the pumpkin:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a large sheet pan. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds. Rub a little oil around the rim of each pumpkin half and place them, cut side down, on the sheet pan. Cook 30-45 minutes until you can easily pierce the thickest part of the flesh with a paring knife. Allow the pumpkin to cool just enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
  2. For the soup:
  3. In a 6 quart soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, add the oil, onion and kosher salt and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, apple or pear and 1 teaspoon of the Chorizo Bomb, and cook one minute more until you can smell the spices.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ham hock and chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes until you can pull the meat from the bone. Remove the ham hock and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining spices, pumpkin, maple syrup and porter or stout beer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. While the soup is cooking, remove the ham pieces from the bone and set aside.
  6. Allow the soup to cool slightly and pureé with an immersion or countertop blender. Add the ham back to the soup, and warm to serving temperature.
  7. Adjust the seasonings if needed and garnish with Adobo Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Powder Ancho Crop

Categories: Course, Global Cuisines, Latin America, North America, Recipes, Sides, Soups and Stews | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adobo Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin_seeds_adoboThese tasty nuts are a wonderful blend of savory and sweet. Use them as a garnish on our Southwest Pumpkin Soup or simply for snacking.

Adobo Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Adobo Spiced Pumpkin Seeds


  • 1 tablespoon ground Adobo
  • 1 teaspoon Voodoo
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1 egg white


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet pan with foil, oil lightly and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices.
  4. In a large bowl, whip the egg white until soft peaks form. Add the seeds and stir to coat evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the seeds, and stir again to coat evenly.
  6. Spread the seeds in a single layer on the sheet pan and bake 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure an even toast.
  7. Allow to cool slightly and start munching!

Adobo Blend

Categories: Recipes, Sides, Snacky Bits, Soups and Stews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perfect Cup: An Herbal Alternative

floral_sonnets_herbal_tisaneIf you’re looking for a tea that isn’t tea, go herbal! All true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, whereas herbal tisanes, also called herbal teas, are made from all manner of herbs and even spices. From peppermint and chamomile to ginger and cardamom- herbal tisanes offer a caffeine free alternative to black, oolong or green teas.

Whether you are health conscious or just looking for a broader range of flavor, herbal tisanes offer up a satisfying brew. Here are a few options from the World Spice selection.

Emerald Mist is a classic mint tea with licorice and ginger providing a sweet spicy body, perfect for warming up on a cold fall day. Floral Sonnets combines chamomile and other floral flavors with just a hint of spice to adding depth to this relaxing brew, and Copper Lemon combines hibiscus and lemongrass for a vibrant, zingy taste which can be enjoyed either hot or iced.

How to brew the perfect cup:

Use Loose Herbal Tea: Loose herbal teas are the best choice, and since they do not come in tea bags must be strained before drinking. Premium herbs are always reserved for loose tea, and the inferior relegated to the chopping block for bagged tea. You always get the best flavor with loose herbal tea because the water is able to circulate freely, bringing more flavor into your cup. Teapots, infusing mugs and simple strainers are all readily available to make brewing nearly as convenient as bags. This simple strainer is our favorite because it fits in a cup or pot and is easy to clean.

How Much Herbal Tea: The amount of herbal tea you use controls the intensity of flavor in your cup. We recommend beginning with one heaping teaspoon for every six ounces of water. If you prefer a cup that is stronger or more mild, you can adjust the quantity to your liking.

Water Temperature: Always use boiling water to steep herbal tisanes. If your water is below boiling, you won’t get the full flavor in your brew.

Steeping Time: Herbal tisanes are very forgiving, making them easy to brew. We recommend a four to seven minute steep. Since they have such vibrant flavors and lack the tannins that can make a bitter brew, herbal tisanes can be brewed longer without worry.

Milk and Sugar: If you have a sweet tooth. add your preferred sweetener to taste. The vibrant flavors of herbal tisanes pair well with sugar or honey, but easily stand alone. We do not recommend adding milk to herbal brews.

Caffeine Content: If you’re looking to cut caffeine from your cup, you’ve come to the right place. All of our herbal tisanes are completely caffeine free. Elsewhere, watch out for yerba mate tea, which contains caffeine, as well as herbal blends with black or green tea added in.

herbal_tea_label_600Herbal tisanes make a great gift and all three of the teas mentioned above are featured in our Herbal Tea Collection. You can discover more about black, green, and oolong tea, or about chai, in our other posts. If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know in the comments.

Categories: DIY, Notes from the Field, Spice Notes, Tea | 2 Comments

The Perfect Cup….

pearl_jasmineChoose and brew the tea that’s right for you!

Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, ceding the top spot only to water, and it’s not hard to see why. There are many delicious varieties of tea, ranging in flavor from the most robust black to the mellowest green. With all that variety it’s easy to find a good reason for a cup of tea, but it’s not always easy to pick the right one.

All tea varieties- black, oolong, green and white- come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, yet vary widely in terms of taste. The differences arise from when the tea is harvested and how the leaves are processed. Here are the primary characteristics, and a few choice examples, of each:

black_tea_assamBlack: Black teas have a strong, full-bodied taste. Malty, fruity, and smoky flavors predominate these robust teas.  Their warmth and body make them perfect for a morning pick-me-up, and they pair well with spices for chai. Black tea has the highest caffeine content of all the tea types.

Kalgar Estate Assam is an exemplary black tea, with a strong malty character and hints of cherry fruitiness. For those seeking a broader range of flavors, Earl Grey is flavored with bergamot oil for a balanced citrus flavor, and Lapsang Souchong is a Chinese black tea which is pine-smoked for a deep smoky aroma and taste.

golden_lily_oolongOolong: Oolong teas possess some of the most complex and varying flavors of the tea world, and are not unlike wine in their diversity and nuance. Falling into a flavor range between green and black teas, they can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, woodsy and roasted, or green, fresh and floral in aroma.

Golden Lily falls on the lighter end of the spectrum, with a rich buttery taste featuring notes of honeysuckle and hay. Bai Hao is a darker oolong, and has a spicy, toasty character with hints of fruit. Baked Ti Kuan Yin falls somewhere between the two, and combines a robust, toasty flavor balanced with a lighter sweetness.

dragonwell_greenGreen: Lighter than black teas, with a medium to light body and a clean fresh taste, green teas often present vegetal or floral flavors. Green teas are notably refreshing and energizing in nature and are often the first pick for health conscious consumers. Green teas have less caffeine than black and are high in anti-oxidants.

Yin Hao Jasmine is a green tea scented with jasmine flowers for an intense, but not overpowering, floral character. The nutty flavor of Dragonwell is smooth and toasty, with a bit of sweetness, and Mao Feng has a rich, vegetal taste which softens over multiple steepings.

White: Only harvested from fresh buds in the early spring, our white tea presents a clear, delicate vegetal flavor similar to green tea but even lighter in body and taste. Like green teas, white tea offers a revitalizing lift in the cup.

White Peony presents a gentle grassy flavor, with the subtlest hints of toastiness and melon.

How to Brew the Perfect Cup

Use Loose Leaf Tea: Loose leaf teas are the best choice, and since they do not come in tea bags must be strained before drinking. Premium tea leaves are always reserved for loose tea while the inferior leaves are relegated to the chopping block for bagged tea. You always get the best flavor with loose tea because the water is able to circulate freely around the leaves, bringing more flavor into your cup. Teapots, infusing mugs and simple strainers are all readily available to make brewing nearly as convenient as bags. This simple strainer is our favorite because it fits in a cup or pot and is easy to clean.

How Much Tea: The amount of tea you use controls the intensity of flavor in your cup. We recommend beginning with one teaspoon for every six ounces of water, for all types of tea. If you prefer a cup that is stronger or more mild, you can adjust the quantity of tea to your liking. This is better than steeping longer because a longer steep can add unwelcome bitterness. It is worth noting that adding more tea will also increase the amount of caffeine present in the brew.

Water Temperature: Always use full boiling water for black tea and below boiling for the other types. Green, white and oolong teas should use water ranging from 180 to 200 degrees because using water that is too hot will vaporize the more delicate flavors. Specific suggestions can be found for individual teas on our website, but a degree of imprecision is fine, too- the important bit is “boiling” vs. “jut below boiling.” To get the right temperature you don’t really need a thermometer, just pull the kettle off the heat just prior to boiling. If you’ve let it go a little too long, simply pour the water into the cup or pot before adding the leaves, this will allow it to cool slightly.

Steeping Time: Steeping time is also a consideration in brewing the perfect cup. As tea steeps, it releases tannins which give tea its bitter taste. If tea steeps for too long, the tannins can overpower the other flavors present in the tea, and allow it to become bitter. Conversely, not steeping the tea long enough will weaken the brew. For black tea, we recommend using a three to four minute steeping time. Oolongs and green teas should steep anywhere from one to three minutes, while white teas should steep for only one to two.

Green, white, and oolong tea leaves can often be steeped multiple times, with new flavors emerging each time. Everyone’s tastes are different, so have fun experimenting and find which steeping of your favorite tea you like the best.

While all three T’s (time, temperature, tea to water ratio) should be considered when brewing, any or all of them can be adjusted according to your personal tastes in order to brew the perfect cup of tea for you. That’s it. Go forth and brew. Here are a few final tidbits to leave you with before you go.

Caffeine Content: Generally speaking, black tea has roughly one third the caffeine content of coffee, with oolong, green, and white teas containing less than black.

Milk and Sugar: The rich, malty flavors of black tea pair beautifully with milk or cream and a sweetener, but the delicate flavors of the other varieties will be overpowered by these additions. We recommend against adding milk or sweetener to green, white, and oolong teas.

Other Brews: While these represent the most common and classic types of true tea, Camellia sinensis, there is still more to explore. You can find out more about chai tea and herbal tisanes in our other blog posts.

black_tea_gift_setIf you’d like to share your love of tea with someone else, consider gifting our Black Tea Selections gift set featuring Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, and Northwest Tea Time.

Categories: Notes from the Field, Spice Notes, Tea | Leave a comment