Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Must-have Staples for Holiday Baking


5
Nutmeg
A light sprinkle of nutmeg adds some extra zing to a hot mug of Irish coffee.
A light sprinkle of nutmeg adds some extra zing to a hot mug of Irish coffee.
Kris Timken/Getty Images

If you're going to be a known purveyor of homemade holiday baked goods, "warmth" is one of the words you want associated with your recipes. Accordingly, you'd be wise to keep nutmeg stocked in the kitchen. The sweet and spicy aroma of nutmeg is a welcome smell in winter. Because of its warmth, nutmeg is a perfect accompaniment for heavy, creamy dishes like baked custards as well as potentially cloying condiments, such as whipped cream. Don't overdo it, though -- a little nutmeg goes a long way.

You can buy powdered nutmeg pretty much anywhere, but if you're buying the spice whole, make sure to inspect it carefully. Higher quality nutmeg will be unbroken and show no signs of worms. Remember also that whole spices will keep their flavor much longer than powdered spices. Nutmeg is one of the stronger spices, so it's often better to buy whole seeds and grate them yourself with the small holes on the side of the cheese grater. Store your nutmeg in a cool, dry place (dry being the operative word).


More to Explore