Sugar and Spice Make Everything Nice

in Culture » Food

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Sugar and spice make everything nice; this feel-good aphorism is rarely put to use in baking. Sugar tends to take all the glory, while spice is banished and forgotten. But, through experimentation and lots of nibbling, I can assure you that this saying is true.


Although classic flavours dominate the baking world, adding savoury spices to your batter can create desserts that are just as scrumptious and far more unique. Resist the urge to conform to classic flavours, and in celebration of spring, try something new. Surprise your taste buds with the enticing combination of sweet and savoury.


Here are some tried-and-true recipes that will shock, soothe, and enrich your palate all at once.


Spiced Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate Chips


Shortbread can be sweet, rich, or mellow. My Bubbie’s shortbread recipe is rich with a mellow, buttery flavour. Her shortbread isn’t too sweet, making it perfect for integrating spices. I added cardamom, a spice commonly used in Indian cooking, to take this cookie from classic to contemporary. Normally paired with curry, it's a wonder how well cardamom pairs with white chocolate and shortbread. The white chocolate chips add sweetness, and the spices tone down the richness of the shortbread. These cookies are a perfect match for tea or milk. For an exotic treat, opt for Chai tea. 




1 cup butter, room temperature


1 cup flour


½ cup cornstarch


½ cup icing sugar


¼ tsp. cinnamon


¼ tsp. nutmeg


½ tsp cardamom


½ cup white chocolate chips



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Beat butter until fluffy (about 30 seconds)
  3. Add flour, cornstarch, and icing sugar and beat until smooth
  4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom and beat until fully combined
  5. Mix in chocolate chips
  6. Cover your hands with flour to prevent the batter from sticking to your hands
  7. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, place it on an ungreased baking sheet, and press each cookie down with a fork in an “X” motion
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes







Chocolate Chili Brownies


This spicy combo originates from Mexico, where chocolate and chilis are used to create mole – a popular Mexican sauce used on meats. In North America, chocolate and chili are adapted into high-end chocolate truffles, but are far from main-stream. When used in baking, the chili powder adds some heat and a definite punch. These flavour combinations make for a more sophisticated brownie, so save this one for the adults.




Recipe adapted from


120 grams unsweetened chocolate, chopped


1/2 cup unsalted butter


1 cup granulated white sugar


1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


2 large eggs


¾ cup all-purpose flour


¼ tsp. baking powder


¼ tsp. salt


1 tsp. coffee granules


1 tbsp. chili powder                        



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking pan
  2. Add chocolate and butter into a steel bowl, and place over a pot of boiling water
  3. Mix occasionally until fully combined and melted
  4. Remove from heat, add sugar, and mix
  5. Add vanilla extract
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time
  7. Stir in flour, salt, coffee granules, and chili powder  
  8. Pour into prepared baking pan
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs



Related articles: (food, recipe, sugar, spice, shortbread, muffins)

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