Christmas-y Ingreedients

Christmas time, the most wonderful time of the year. Parties and get-togethers at every corner with assortments of food and drinks that bring smiles to our taste buds. Behind all those mouthwatering dishes are a few key ingredients that scream ‘Merry Christmas’!

Here are the most Christmas-y Ingredients for this season and festive ways to use them!

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that is seen all year round, but during the Holidays it can be found in almost every recipe including desserts, drinks, candy, and main dishes. Even the aroma of cinnamon is one of the most popular and inviting smells of the season. The key to the versatility of this spice is the mixture of sweet and savory taste and smell, making it the perfect Christmas ingredient in almost every Holiday dish.

Vanilla

Vanilla can be used in many different forms from extract to powder, from simple sweet desserts to a warm candle. This flavor is strong and only a little is needed for a big flavor. Authentic vanilla bean is very exclusive and expensive, but people will spend the money to get the beloved comfort that vanilla brings, whether in taste or aroma. Vanilla’s sweet taste will be a classic for years to come.

Nutmeg

The sister spice of cinnamon is a highly potent sweet spice that is capable of being used independent from other spices. Nutmeg is used in many Holiday recipes to bring a warming affect to each dish. Nutmeg can also be used as a digestive aid that can help people through the Holiday season, however, people need to be careful because too large of a dose can be fatal. But this shouldn’t cause anyone to steer clear of the spice and its unique and lovely spice comfort it provides.

Recipe to try this Christmas:

Eggnog
(recipe from Food Network’s Alton Brown)

Cocoa

Cocoa is one ingredient that is used in two forms, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Cocoa butter is the main ingredient in the beloved indulgence, chocolate. Cocoa powder comes from the cocoa bean when the butter is taken out, and has a harsh and bitter taste, but is used in a plethora of Christmas favorites. It has been a part of the festive season in assortments of cookies, chili’s, and of course hot chocolate. Along with other spices and natural ingredients, cocoa powder has many health benefits when consumed sans excess sugar and additives. Nothing will ever be able to take the place of cocoa (and all wonderful chocolate it creates) to bring us joy in the Holiday season.

The unique aspect of each of these ingredients is that not only are they all used in cooking and baking, but these ingredients bring aromas that create a feeling that only this time of year can bring. The Christmas season is marked by the smells that are coming out of the kitchen. You have beautiful decorations, but those can be up all year long. Those smells that come out of the kitchen are what you expect for the holiday season. The aromas are what make you salivate and feel like you are home. It is both soothing and exciting, and makes you hungry for both family and food. Smell is one of the bigger senses because not only do you have the food, but you have evergreens and bows. When thinking of Christmas, we think of frosty windows, smell of the yeast bread that Grandma has in the oven, and the bubbling pots on the stove. You know when you walk into Grandma’s house the aromas strike you, and you smile because you are home.