We don't often look to the spice rack to inspire a recipe roundup, but cinnamon deserves a deep dive, given its ubiquity in fall and winter baking. Also known as cassia, the cinnamon you're most likely to find in the US is bold and spicy-sweet (in contrast with milder Ceylon cinnamon). Sure, we love it in a warm, gooey cinnamon roll fresh from the oven, but there are many more ways to take advantage of the spice, including plenty of everyday uses that don't require making and proofing a yeasted dough. Baked oatmeal with cinnamon and apples, cream cheese–stuffed wontons tossed with cinnamon sugar, horchata steeped with coffee and cinnamon sticks—keep reading for 15 of our favorite recipes starring this heady spice.
Your default method for making oatmeal is probably on the stovetop, or maybe you prefer the microwave. But don't forget that there's a third option: baking. Though you may be loath to turn on your oven just for breakfast, baked oatmeal is an incredibly easy, hands-off meal, and it scales up well if you're serving many. We add tart Granny Smith apple and cinnamon to this version, along with half a cup of chopped walnuts for crunch and light brown sugar for warm sweetness.
Maybe there are a few lonely souls out there who don't like sweet, fluffy cinnamon rolls, but none of us have met them yet. This recipe is perfect for a lazy morning, since all the prep work is done the night before and only requires one bowl. The dough incorporates Greek yogurt to keep things light, while the filling is a sweet mixture of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let the prepared rolls refrigerate overnight, then come morning, just bake and finish them off with some homemade cream cheese frosting.
Monkey bread is like the larger, pull-apart cousin of the cinnamon roll. To make it, simply roll individual balls of yeasted dough in a cinnamon and brown sugar mixture, then pile them up into a Bundt pan to bake. Once they're a deep golden brown, drizzle the monkey bread with a vanilla-scented powdered-sugar glaze. The eating gets a little messy, since it's generally done by tearing the bread apart with your hands—but you probably won't want to wait for utensils anyway.
Not only are these meringues beautiful to look at, they're impressively easy to make. The only real tricks involved are using slightly melted sugar and incorporating it into the beaten egg whites one spoonful at a time, in order to keep the meringues as airy as possible. After forming the meringues, dust them with cocoa powder and cinnamon, then bake them until they're light and crispy—depending on the humidity level, that can take anywhere from two to four hours. But we promise they're worth it.
This recipe is proof that wonton wrappers can and should be put to use beyond the savory realm. To make these sweet and simple dumplings, just stuff the wrappers with a blend of cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla; fry them until they're crispy and golden, but still a little chewy; and toss them with cinnamon sugar. A Nutella- and dulce de leche–infused dipping sauce on the side makes them even richer.
For a treat that's reminiscent of cinnamon raisin toast, but much more special, try this delectable filled waffle, made by rolling cream cheese, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar inside a spiral of puff pastry dough. Press it in a waffle iron for 10 minutes, until the waffle is flaky and crisp outside, hot and buttery inside.
It's hard to go wrong with rich, fudgy chocolate brownies, but we like them best when they incorporate a little kick to offset the chocolate's sweetness. Smoky ancho chili powder, hot cayenne, and earthy cinnamon do the job nicely in this recipe. A combination of unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate gives the brownies an intense chocolate flavor and won't leave them too sugary.
We use both unsweetened applesauce and chopped Granny Smiths to cram these cookies with lots of fruit flavor. Because the applesauce provides plenty of its own moisture, just a couple of tablespoons of butter are needed. Hearty, nutty oatmeal turns the cookies pleasantly chewy, while cinnamon rounds out the flavor.
You'll need just four ingredients to make this custardy Colombian dessert: plantains, crème fraîche, cinnamon, and sugar. Combine them all and roast for about 30 minutes, until the sugar has started to caramelize and the cream is soaked into the plantains, turning them soft and rich, almost pudding-like. If you don't have or can't find crème fraîche to substitute for thicker, lightly sour Colombian heavy cream, a mix of heavy cream and sour cream works well.
Horchata, the nut- and rice-based Mexican beverage, has a creamy consistency (despite containing no dairy) and a mild flavor that plays nicely with all sorts of other ingredients. Infused with dark-roast coffee beans and cinnamon sticks, this refreshing caffeinated version will perk you right up.
Unlike the cake-like batter of most apple cider doughnuts, our version uses a yeast-raised dough to create a lighter crumb. To ensure a bright apple flavor, we reach for fresh apple cider, adding rose water and almond extract to enhance its aroma. The finishing touch? A generous coating of apple cinnamon sugar for the ultimate sweet-tart flavor.
You can always count on coffee cake to bring on the cinnamon with its crumbly streusel topping. In this recipe we use tangy Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, which makes a light and tender cake. Meanwhile, the streusel uses whole wheat flour for a subtle graham cracker–like vibe. Not only is this an improved version of classic coffee cake, but it's also an easy one—if you make the crumb topping and then the batter, you only have to use one bowl.
These are snickerdoodles as they're meant to be—crispy on the outside, chewy and tender in the middle. To achieve this consistency, we substitute the hydrogenated shortening used in most recipes for virgin coconut oil, which makes a richer cookie. Baking the cookies under high heat for a short amount of time helps them crisp on the edges without drying out the middle. For a brighter, fresher cinnamon flavor, we like to use freshly grated cinnamon in addition to the commercially ground option.
These German Christmas treats are rich with warm spices, toasted nuts, and candied fruit, and they're glazed to perfection. In addition to cinnamon, the dough include spices like nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cardamom. Though the cookies can be baked and cut into bars, you can also chill the dough for at least four hours, then scoop them into smaller cookies before baking. Whether you opt for bars or cookies, you'll want to let them sit for some time before enjoying (if you can!)—their flavor gets better in the days following baking.
For easier churros at home, we turn to the waffle iron instead of a pot of hot oil. The batter consists of a simple mixture of flour, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, butter and water, which is heated on the stove and then scooped onto the waffle iron. Once the churros are cooked, brush them with butter and dip them in cinnamon sugar. Their nooks and crannies provide the perfect space for the chocolate sauce to pool.
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