I’ve never been much of a “foodie.” Yes, I love food, I adore food, but I’ve always been more of a “keep it simple” person. I don’t have an immersion circulator, I don’t play around with liquid nitrogen, and I don’t make foams – those can all be wonderful things, but I honestly don’t have the time or patience to bother. So when I saw that Flavor Forecast had noted smoking ingredients as a new trend, I was immediately intimidated. Won’t this be complicated or fussy? My husband, who’s practically married to his grill, walked me through the process, and it’s surprisingly simple: soak the wood, get it smoking, and put whatever it is you want smoked near it, cover, and wait. Once I saw how easy it was I couldn’t stop thinking of fun ways to add that unique and rich flavor to practically everything. I love combining sweet and savory flavors, so adding a bit of smoke to dessert sounded delicious to me.
An easy way to add a smoky flavor without it overwhelming the dish is to smoke the whole spices and then add small amounts to your recipe. Today, I used McCormick’s Gourmet Stick Cinnamon, and followed the directions in this helpful video.
For my smoked cinnamon cake, I chose to infuse the smoked cinnamon into the butter, but this idea would work just was well if you wanted to infuse milk to make a unique cocktail or ice cream. Chocolate and smoke are such a natural pairing, how do you plan on adding a bit of smoke to your favorite recipes?
For more information on the smoked spices trend, make sure to check out FlavorForecast.com.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 smoked McCormick Gourmet Cinnamon Sticks, lightly crushed (directions below)
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces semi sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To smoke spices, spread 1 cup fine mesquite wood chips in cast-iron skillet. Heat on high heat about 10 minutes or until wood chips start to smoke. Reduce heat to low. Place small baking rack on top of wood chips. Place cinnamon sticks in small shallow disposable aluminum pan or foil muffin baking cup. Place pan on rack. Cover skillet with lid. (In order to keep the smoke in, lid should cover skillet tightly. If necessary, place aluminum foil over skillet first then cover with lid.) Smoke 30 minutes. Turn heat off. Let stand 1 hour or until cooled.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees with the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat, add the cinnamon sticks. Let it cool slightly, infusing the butter for at least 30 minutes. Strain the butter into a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the melted semi sweet chocolate and cocoa powder, stirring together.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add white sugar, and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg whites equally into each bowl.
Pour plain batter into the prepared pan, and then the chocolate layer.. Once the cake pan is full, using a spoon or butter knife, swirl the batter in the pan, marbling it. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, about 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; remove sides of pan. Serve at room temperature.