Monthly Archives: August 2009

Cooking: Nutmeg and Mace

Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and dried. Mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or arillus of the seed. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices.

The mace is removed from the shell and its broken parts are known as blades.Because the yield of mace is much less than nutmeg, it has had greater value. A pile of fruit large enough to make one hundred pounds of nutmeg produces a single pound of mace. While Nutmeg and Mace are related, they are 2 different spices. Mace has a stronger flavor and is preferred in medieval English cooking. Nutmeg was preferred in French cooking. Arabic and Asian cultures used the spices equally.

Personally I love the smell of mace over nutmeg. Sweet, pungent, spicy (not heat, but bite) all at the same time. I bought some mace blades at Pennsic, 4 precious ounces, and have fallen in love all over again. I have not been this excited about a spice since I put cardamon in the baklava. I am working on building my regional spice libraries. While there are commonalities across cultures, everyone has a different spin on things. Herbs are next on the research hit list.

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Posted by on August 25, 2009 in Cooking


Spanish Drinking Chocolate

Tonight was the first foray into the wonderful world of period chocolate.  It started with  91% chocolate from South America and ended with 4 happy women. 16th century drinking chocolate is thick, spicy, and decadent indulgence.  Armed with research about the drink, spice variations and type of chocolate used,. I set about experimentation. The chocolate was as close to pure dark chocolate as you could get. I used whole spices and then ground them prior to use. All spices are ones they would have used in medieval Spain.  The first experimentation was what I would call a resounding success.

2 cups of water
10 oz of dark chocolate
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mace
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp clove
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, scrapped
2 tbl sugar

1. Boil water and turn off heat
2. Add chocolate and let it sit in the pot for 5 minutes
3. Whisk to combine water and melted chocolate
4. Add spices and whisk well
5. Add sugar and whisk well
6. Let sit for 5 minutes for flavors to blend/marry
7. Serve warm in 2oz portions

It is extremely rich and thick chocolate. It is unlike American hot chocolate and is meant to be sipped and savored, rather than gulped. Full documentation will be forthcoming in the next week or so.

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Posted by on August 23, 2009 in Cooking, Recipes


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