Hey there heat eaters, it’s time for another winter warmer.
This time, though, we’re staying away from the chilli and making another one of my extreme other spice desserts.
This month’s spice of choice? Cinnamon extract:
Now, there are three different kinds of cinnamon extract you can use here.
The one you see above is a flavour extract of cassia, aka chinese, cinnamon. As a flavour extract, this one has less heat and less of the anti-fungal properties cinnamon extract is often used for when not in food.
But, while you can get cassia extracts that aren’t meant for cooking, there’s also a second type of cinnamon. The original, sri lankan “ceylon” cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon has a slightly different taste from its chinese counterpart but is still very recognisably cinnamon.
Part of the reason for that difference, however, comes from a compound known as coumarin, that can cause liver damage in high quantities. A compound found in particularly large quantities in the cassia form.
Fortunately, I’ve crunched some EU food standards numbers from the BfR (germany’s own regulatory body) and, even accounting for the manufacturer’s claims that cinnamon extract is seventy times the strength of cinnamon itself, the most sensitive seventy kilo person would have to consume over ten grams a day to experience any problems.
You can scale that to your own weight but, unless you’re lighter than a feather, the half teaspoon we’ll be using should be no issue, regardless of which kind of extract you pick. Especially as no one eats a whole crumble to themselves in one sitting.
If you are genuinely concerned, though, pick the ceylon variety because it has far less coumarin and a similar, though not identical, taste.
And, now that our safety checks are out of the way, it’s time to get on with cooking.
Here we have:
4 cooking apples
2 cups of cornflakes
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of plain white flour
some icing sugar
We’re going to start by preheating the oven to 180°c like usual, then we’ll heat the white sugar in a pan with half a cup of water, stirring occasionally as we do so.
Once it’s reached the boil, we’ll let it continue to bubble away for a few minutes while, in between stirring, we prepare a little cinnamon paste that we can mix in as it cools.
To do this, we’re going to mix the previously mentioned half teaspoon of your chosen cinnamon extract with just enough icing sugar to stop it being liquid. This will help bind the oil to our water-based sugar syrup but make sure you use a glass or ceramic container for it. Pure cinnamon extract will dissolve some plastics and is likely to take up the flavour of metal containers if left in them too long.
It is also generally considered a strong irritant so wash your hands quickly and thoroughly should you spill any.
Once added to our syrup, it’s totally safe but I still wouldn’t advise tasting it at this stage. Cinnamon extract is a very strong flavour that, if mishandled, can completely overpower your taste-buds for hours afterwards.
Wait until it’s in the crumble.
To make the crumble, we’re going to need to slice some apples but first, half-fill a large bowl with water. This is to keep the apple slices in, so that they don’t oxidise and turn brown.
Skin your four apples and slice them thinly, placing them into the water as you go. You don’t, strictly speaking, have to use cooking apples for a crumble but, for this recipe, they are by far the best choice. With the syrup we’re going to be adding, regular apples would be far too sweet.
Once your apples are all (minus the skin and cores) in slices in the water bowl, it’s time we made the topping.
For this, we’re going to combine a fairly standard mix of flour, sugar and melted butter with some cornflakes for extra crunch. I find that it’s best to use the cheapest ones around for this because, unlike the sort you’d actually want for breakfast, they don’t soften up when wet. Or when steamed from below by the liquid in our dessert.
Combining these ingredients is as simple as heating the butter, crushing the cornflakes and giving everything a good stir.
After that’s done, layer the apple slices into your baking container like so and pour on the cinnamon syrup.
Then spread on your topping and pop the whole thing in the oven for about 45 minutes, until it’s bubbling at the edges.
Finally, once it’s cooled a little, our cinnamon crumble will be ready for consumption.
But, in my experience at least, it won’t be hot. With the flavour extract, there was no heat at all and, while the syrup I made using the ceylon cinnamon oil had some strength to it, the resulting dessert had less than I could detect. A miniscule
In terms of making something chilli-free with extreme firepower, this dish has come out even worse than my ginger cake but, like that cake, it’s been far from an utter failure.
The heat of the cinnamon may not come through but the flavour does in spades. Just as your average apple crumble has hints of cinnamon, this one has hints of apple to its flavour, with the spice itself really taking centre stage.
It’s a little wet at the bottom from the syrup, so I wouldn’t pair it with custard, and its intense taste may not be for everyone but, for me and my friends, this really hit the spot. And it should do the same for anyone who loves cinnamon as much as I do.