Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I often use cayenne pepper in baking and never thought much about it other than to acknowledge it was, well, unusual.
But the other day Clare2e at the wonderful Women of Mystery blog made mention at the end of her post about accidentally using red pepper instead of nutmeg in an apple pie.

I’ve done that on purpose. I made one on the weekend that barely lasted two meals.

Hot pepper is great in hot chocolate. This was how the native South Americans before took it before the Europeans came along and added sugar. For the record, I use sugar too.

Knowing the traditional use and having eaten mole sauce, which contains chocolate, I decided to play a bit with it.
It’s lovely in brownies. The heat smoothes the chocolate and give a wee bit of an after bite. It’s very pleasant especially on a cold Canadian winter day.

It’s also absolutely stellar in gingerbread. I went to make some gingerbread last winter and didn’t have quite enough dried ginger. Rather than going out and getting some I paced a moment, drummed my fingers on the table and Ha! The obvious solution was revealed.

Ginger is hot. So’s the pepper. The trick is to get the mix right so the heat augments, not overpowers, the ginger.
I added about a one-quarter teaspoon to the mix. It worked fine and made it seem like I’d used especially strong ginger, nothing else.
I was so tickled with what I’d done it’s part of the recipe now. I’ve used up to a half-teaspoon of cayenne, but I increased the ginger to a teaspoon. If you like spicy, this is adequate. I love the hot/sweet combination and always have. We’ve got an old family recipe for mustard that uses sugar and turmeric that’ll clear your sinuses.

I find reasons to put it in other baking as it occurs to me. I’ve even thrown it in an ordinary loaf of bread.

Last winter I was taking cayenne capsules and discovered the cayenne warded off hot flashes. Sadly, my body adapted and that’s not working for me anymore.

But it still tastes good and with the autumn here and baking season upon us I’ll be finding even more uses for cayenne. Meanwhile, I may need to bake another nice, hot, apple pie.


Crabby McSlacker said...

What a great idea! (I was going to say a "cool" idea, but it's anything but that).

I did discover though that it doesn't work the other way. I was reaching for the cayenne to put in some spaghetti sauce and accidentally got the cinnamon instead--had to start over. It tasted really awful.

But I may try to add some cayenne to some traditionally sweet foods--that sounds great!

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Oh, yes! Foods made with hot spices like cayenne or jalapeno are not unusual here in Texas.

And as an aside, did you know the pioneers of the American West would substitute black pepper for ginger when they ran out of ginger for ginger snaps? I read it in a recipe book (so it must be true).

Leah J. Utas said...

I was once served cinnamon in spaghetti sauce that I believe was done on purpose. It wasn't much, but it was enough to put me off.
Thanks for the support, Crabby.

I'd never heard of black pepper as a ginger substitute, Bunnygirl. I suppose, if sweet enough and with enough other spices, it could work.
Most interesting.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Leah,

Thanks for the link to women of mystery. Clare's Cayenne post certainly woke me up! She also mentioned that with the much spicier cuisines, like Thai, they often serve sweeter German wines as accompaniment because they can cut through and compliment the heat.

I think I'll try putting a dash in brownies (great excuse to make brownies.) You're so smart! Chocolate isn't sweet (nor is vanilla, etc.) until we add sugar.I never thought of that.

I'll let you know.


Clare2e said...


Thanks for the shout-out! I love traditional Mexican drinking cocoa and mole, too. Probably why the cayenne/apple pie worked for me.

It's unfortunate that the beneficial effect on the hot flashes muted, but here's info from the University of Maryland Medical Center about the many other possible benefits and uses of this wonder herb on "Cayenne Tuesday".


Sorry I had to wrap the link. I've completely forgotten how to write an HTML link. Will it work here in comments if I steal the formula from another post?

Anyhoo, we are going to be the spiciest and sweetest gang around. Thanks for the inspiration.

Leah J. Utas said...

Terrie and Clare - It was my pleasure to be able to link to WOM.

Terrie - I think you'll enjoy the cayenne in the brownies. You might have to experiment with several batches to find out what amount works best for you. Oh!The horror!
That's interesting about sweet wine and Thai food. I can see how they'd go well together, though.

Clare - Thanks for the link about cayenne's other uses.
I meant to go over and leave a note at your blog that I'd linked to you. Sorry for the lack of manners, but I hadn't had a chance to get to it yet.
Love "Cayenne Tuesday!"

Clare2e said...

No lack of manners in the slightest. Lucky for the WOM, Moran's always on the case, and let me know what was cookin' over here.

Anonymous said...

Cayenne Tuesday works for me!! Putting up my first batch of salsa today, if I get all the other little chores done first. Except that it has turned out to be an exceptionally fine day here today, so I'd rather be outside. Hmmm. Cayenne Tuesday may stretch into Wishful Wednesday, but that's okay, too. As long as it doesn't intrude on Thirsty Thursday!

Leah J. Utas said...

Salsa Day. Good for you, Bag Lady.
I should be baking something as our flour arrived yesterday.
I'm sure I'll get to it.

Leah J. Utas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.