Celebrating Cinco de Mayo – Homemade Black Pepper Tortillas

Tortillas are very versatile…  They are great with appetizers, main dishes and desserts.  They bring back childhood memories because when I was little my Titi (endearment for Tia) used to make them for us as an afternoon snack.  I remember feeling especially lucky (and proud) when she made them for my third grade class who had never tasted tortillas.   By the way, there were 42 kids in my third grade class.  Wow!  That was definitely a labor of love…. 

This week was my first attempt at making tortillas.  Inspired by this childhood memory, my sons and I worked together on this article.  They really got into rolling the dough.  We were very excited when one of the tortillas ended up in the shape of a heart.  We took pictures as we went along to share. 

We decided to put a dessert twist on tortillas and peppercorns.  So, for the feature picture of this article, we took a homemade black pepper tortilla and used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out 3 hearts.   We then made a little napoleon dessert by layering the  tortilla with Nutella and Strawberry Preserves.  The flavor combination rocked!  You definitely have to try it.  For more information on Peppercorns, check out my post in the archives,  https://gypsyworldspicecafe.com/2010/09/19/provocative-peppercorns/



P.S. Sending Special Birthday Wishes to my sister, Desiree.  Love Ya!




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Homemade Black Pepper Tortillas

Yields:  12 tortillas


3 cups Flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough

1-2 teaspoons Salt (depending on your taste)

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 tablespoon coarsley ground Black Pepper

3/4  cup Hot Water

3/4 cup Shortening


  • Measure your flour, salt, black pepper and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.  
  • Add the shortening to the flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the shortening until the mixture has consistency of meal (crumbly).



    • Add hot water to flour mixture.  Use a spatula to combine the ingredients into a ball (until the dough does not stick to the sides of your bowl).  Note:  You may have to add a few tablepoons of flour. 
    • Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let rest for 1 hour.
    • Divide the ball into 12 smaller balls.  Cover with a clean dish towel.

  • Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into to be about 1/8 inch thick.  


  • Place tortilla on a hot skillet.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on first side.   It will start to bubble which is a sign to flip it. 
  • Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side.


*Variation:  Instead of black pepper, try your favorite blend of Herbs.  We made a variation by swapping out the coarsley ground black pepper with with 2 tablespoons of our “house blend”.  You might want to try Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence…


Assembling the Black Pepper Napoleon:

Using a cookie cutter, cut out 3 shapes from a black pepper tortilla.  Spread some Nutella and Strawberry Preserves onto the first tortilla.  Top with the second tortilla.  Repeat.   Garnish with whipped cream and mini-chocolate chips.


Embracing In-Law Family Traditions – Polish Easter Bread

I first met my In-Law family during the Easter holiday (about 15 years ago). 

Their Easter food traditions revolve around the love of Kielbasi with sauerkraut (it has to be “white kielbasi”…), Polish Easter Bread and Pound Cake.  

After we got married, I started asking for a copy of the recipe so that I could make Polish Easter Bread for my husband.  It took a few years to get a copy from my sister-in-law.   It was well worth the wait…  The first time that I made this (with the help of another sister-in-law), we actually forgot to add the eggs (ha ha).  It was still very good.

Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe and have re-written it so that non-bread makers can easily make it too.  Of course, I had to add some spice (Cinnamon was an obvious choice)..

The holidays are definitely a time to embrace cultural traditions.  It may be a personal family tradition, an in-law tradition or one that has evolved over time by the blending of the two families (and cultures)….

Enjoy your Easter Holiday!




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Polish Easter Bread

Yields:  3 loaves (or 6 mini-loaves)


1-1/2 cups Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

2 cups Milk

2 sticks Butter

6 eggs (3 whole, 3 yolks)

1 cup Raisins

1 cup Golden Raisins

3 packets of Dry Active Yeast (Rapid Rise)

9 cups flour, plus more as needed (I blend 1/2 white flour with 1/2 white-wheat flour)

1 tablespoon Cinnamon, divided


  • Measure your flour into a bowl and set aside.  
  • In a separate bowl, toss raisins with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of flour; set aside.

  •  Heat sugar, milk, salt and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Do not bring to a boil.  Set aside to cool to 105-110 degrees (about 30 minutes).
  • Pour this mixture into a large bowl.  Add yeast and stir until yeast has dissolved.

  • Add 2 cups of flour to yeast mixture.  Mix until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel.
  • Put this bowl in the oven* to proof for at least 15 minutes. When you take the bowl out of the oven, you will see that the yeast has started to work.  The mixture will be kind of foamy.
  • Add 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time (mixing well between each cup of flour).  
  • Mix in the raisins, eggs and remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  The dough will be sticky but workable.

  • Turn the sticky dough mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface.
  • Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.  You will probably need to add another 2-3 cups of flour (one sprinkle at a time).  You do not want the dough to get flakey (very few raisins should fall out).  Only add enough flour to get the dough smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl.  Turn to coat the dough.  Place the bowl in the oven* and let rise until double (for about 1-2 hours).

  • Punch the dough down and divide into 3 equal portions for regular sized loaves (6 equal portion for mini-loaves).
  • Shape and put into greased loaf pans.  Cover with plastic wrap and clean dish towel.  Let rise for 30-60 minutes.


  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  If needed, cover with aluminum foil during the last 5-10 minutes to prevent over-browning.



Oven Proofing Temperature Instructions

  • If you have an electric oven, heat it at 350 degrees for 1 minute and then shut it off.
  • If you have a gas oven, the pilot light will have the oven warmed to the appropriate temperature.

Link to WikiHow on Kneading Bread


Gypsy Spiced Frittata

Recently, I have become a huge fan of making frittatas.

Not only is the technique easy, you can easily swap out the veggies for whatever flavors you like.  

It starts on the stove top and finishes off under the broiler.  

I like to top the frittata with a small amount of cheese for flavor, texture and color.  I love how it browns under the broiler!

Serve with a nice salad and you are set for a nice brunch or dinner entrée.




 Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Gypsy Spiced Frittata

Yield:  4-6 Servings

8 Eggs
1 teaspoon of your favorite herb blend ( I use my own custom blend)
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Pancetta, chopped
2 small Red-skinned Potatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove Garlic, minced
4 cups Baby Spinach
4 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
3/4-1 teaspoon Hot Paprika (depending on level of heat you like)
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
1/8 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella

  1. Add eggs, herb blend, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. Heat oven broiler to high.
  4. In a large frying pan (that is oven-proof), melt butter with olive oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Sauté pancetta, potatoes, and onions until veggies tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add garlic, mushrooms, and spinach. Cook another 3-5 minutes until spinach has wilted. 
  7. Season to taste salt, pepper and hot paprika.
  8. Pour egg mixture onto veggie mixture.
  9. Reduce heat to low and cook until edges or pan are firm (3-4 minutes). 
  10. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
  11. Place under the broiler for 3 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted (and lightly browned).


Creative Cooking with Cilantro: Day 4 – Coconut Cilantro Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

This week, I have been posting the recipes from our Cilantro themed Sunday dinner.

Below is the recipe for the dessert from our family meal…

Yes…I found a way to make a dessert using Cilantro and it was amazing.

Even the picky eater in my family loved it. That alone says it all!

I hope that this Cilantro series opens your taste buds and imagination so that you too can come up with some creative ways to cook with Cilantro. It is more than “just for salsa”…




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Coconut Cilantro Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

1 box Pound Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
3/4 cup Milk
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
1/4 Cilantro, finely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners.
  3. Add cake mix, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix on low for 30 seconds.
  5. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  6. Fold in coconut and cilantro.
  7. Fill each cupcake liner halfway.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).
  9. Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  10. Frost with Lime Buttercream Frosting (see recipe listed below).
  11. Top with coconut or candies.


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Lime Buttercream Frosting

1-3/4 cups Confectioners Sugar
1/4 cup Butter, softened
Zest of 1 Lime, finely chopped
Juice from 1 Lime
1-2 tablespoons Milk (as needed)

  1. In a medium bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, milk, lime zest and juice with a mixer.
  2. Beat for 1-2 minutes until very creamy.
  3. Add milk a tablespoon at a time to get the consistency you like.

Oregano Unleashed


One of my favorite dried herbs or spices to use. I absolutely love the smell and flavor. In fact, most of all of my favorite food memories use Oregano. We used oregano in our pasta sauces, meatballs, carne beef, and the meat filling for our empanadillas and pasteles. I remember loving to watch my mother cook. She would pour the dried oregano into the palms of her hands and crumble them finer by rubbing her hands together to “release the flavor”…letting the dried herbs fall into the pot. When she was done, she would lean over the pot to take in the aroma. Justly thinking about it makes me hungry and home-sick for her cooking…

Check out the recipes below that highlight Oregano. The first recipe is a traditional Italian shrimp recipe from one of my favorite “go to” Italian cook books. The rest of the recipes are my creative take on unique uses of Oregano in desserts and cocktails. The combinations are unexpected but they unleash new ways to use a dried herb that some people consider to be cliché.

Next time you are cooking or baking, consider using oregano in a new way…you might be surprised…


P.S. Love Ya Mom! Thanks for always being a constant inspiration…

Oregano Basics

Oregano is commonly used in Mediterranean and Latin American recipes. Oregano’s name means “joy of the mountains” because it was traditionally grown and harvested on the Mediterranean mountainsides. It was not widely used in the United States until the WWII soldiers brought Oregano home from Italy.

Oregano is very aromatic with a bitter, peppery edge flavor. Like most dried herbs and spices, Oregano should be stored away from sunlight and has a shelf life of about 6 months.

While, many use it for pizza, it very good with beans, poultry, lamb, fish, tomato and vegetable dishes.

Recipe Section

Traditional Recipe – Black Pepper Shrimp Oreganata

1 pound large Shrimp in their shells
2 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 tablespoon Black Pepper
1 cup Dry White Wine

  • Rinse shrimp under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a nonreactive large frying pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add garlic, oregano, pepper and shrimp.
  • Cook, tossing 30 seconds.
  • Add white wine and cook 2-3 minutes (or until shrimp turns pink).
  • Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Source: 365 Easy Italian Recipes by Rick Marzullo O’Connell

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Saffron Frosted Orange Oregano Cupcakes

1 box Orange Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1-1/3 cups Milk
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
3 large Eggs
1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried Oregano

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray mini-bundt cake pans with cooking spray.
  • Add cake mix, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, cinnamon, oregano and almond extract to a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix on low for 30 seconds.
  • Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  • Fill each mini-bundt halfway. Smooth tops with a spoon.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).
  • Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  • When cool, dust the mini-bundt cakes with powdered sugar.
  • Dollop with Saffron Buttercream Frosting (see recipe listed below)
  • Decorate with candies or fresh oregano.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Saffron Buttercream Frosting

3-3/4 cups Confectioners Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, softened
3-4 tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch Saffron

  • Steep saffron in lukewarm milk for 5 minute then remove saffron.
  • In a medium bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, saffron infused milk with a mixer.
  • Beat for 1-2 minutes until very creamy. ( Add more milk if it consistency is too thick).

Oregano Infused Vodka

1 pint-sized mason jar, clean and dry
Fresh Oregano, washed and patted dry

  • Fill jar halfway (loosely) with fresh oregano.
  • Fill jar with vodka.
  • Put the lid on the jar and place in a dark location (or refrigerator) for at least 3 days.
  • After 3 days, remove oregano.

Oregano Infused Bloody Mary

1-1/2 oz. Oregano Infused Vodka
3 oz. Tomato Juice
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
Worcestershire Sauce to taste
Tabasco Sauce to taste
Black Pepper to taste

  • Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  • Shake softly.
  • Strain into highball glass. Garnish with celery and fresh oregano.

Oregano Vodka Pink Spritzer

1-1/2 oz Oregano Infused Vodka
Fresca Soda
1/2 teaspoon Grenadine

  • Fill a highball glass halfway with ice.
  • Add oregano infused vodka.
  • Fill remainder of glass with Fresca.
  • Stir in grenadine.
  • Garnish with fresh oregano or a maraschino cherry.

Cardamom Coffee Cake Cupcakes

Last week I wanted to make cupcakes for someone special in my life that is going through one of life’s challenges. This special person loves coffee cake and used to make it for our little guy. As a toddler, he would even want to call her…just to ask her to make it for him… Of course, she did… So, we decided to make coffee cake cupcakes for her.

Below is my take on the classic coffee cake. I opted to spice things up with Cardamom. Cardamom pairs well with coffee (and that is what coffee cake is supposed to do).


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Cardamom Coffee Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

1/2 cup Butter, softened

1/2 cup Shortening

2 cups Sugar, divided

4 Eggs, separated

1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

1 cup Milk

3 cups Flour

1 tablespoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Cinnamon, divided

1-1/2 teaspoons Cardamom, divided

1 tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa Powder

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line cupcake pans with paper cupcake liners.
  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and the unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening until pale and fluffy.
  • Add egg yolks, 1-1/2 cups of the sugar and vanilla extract.
  • Mix to combine, scraping down sides as necessary.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of cardamom.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk. Mixing well with each time.
  • Fold the beaten egg whites into the butter mixture.
  • Fill the cupcake pan halfway with the batter.
  • Sprinkle the batter with of the sugar mixture.
  • Fill the cupcake pan with remaining batter (until 2/3 full).
  • Sprinkle the batter with remaining sugar mixture.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Perfect Paprika Party

My grandmother, who loved to cook, would tell everyone that came to visit that she had made something “especially for you”.  As more people arrived, you realized that she loved cooking for everyone…each person was special to her…which made her extra-special…

One of the things that I enjoy most is cooking for others. It decompresses me after a busy day or a crazy week. I enjoy planning an enticing menu, preparing the food and seeing the satisfied faces as they enjoy the meal “made especially for them”.

While brainstorming ideas on what to make with the spice Paprika, I decided to create recipes for a Paprika Party! This so-called “basic spice” (which up until now has been nothing more than a mere garnish in my kitchen) has a plethora of flavors, colors and health benefits.

I hope this article inspires you to try Paprika for more than just dusting your “deviled eggs” and to make something memorable for those people in your life that are special to you.



What is Paprika?

Paprika is the powder form of the capsicum peppers (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). There are many varieties of Paprika peppers which are mainly grown in Hungary and Spain. The peppers are picked, dried and milled.

The Spanish were the first to create the powdered form of Paprika. When Christopher Columbus returned from his trip to the Americas, he presented the King and Queen of Spain with capsicum peppers as gifts. However, Paprika was not introduced to Hungary until the 16-17th centuries.

Nowadays, you can easily find many varieties of Paprika at your local supermarket. Like most spices, Paprika also needs to be stored in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It does not have a long shelf life, so it is best to buy Paprika in small quantities.

Below is a break down on the various types of Paprika that you can choose from.


Plain Paprika is bland which is why it is often used as a garnish for deviled eggs and potato salad.


Hungarian Paprika

Depending on the type of pepper used, the flavor profile for Hungarian Paprika ranges from sweet to very hot. The color ranges from mild to bright red. The brightest red is considered to be the hottest.

There are six types of Hungarian Paprika:

1. Special quality (Különleges) – Mild flavor, Vibrant Red

2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – Mild flavor, Light Red

3. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – Sweet flavor, Bright Red

4. Semi-sweet (félédes) – Sweet flavor with trace of heat

5. Rose (rózsa) – Mild flavor with trace of heat, Light Red

6. Hot (erős) – Hottest of all paprikas, Light Brown-Orange


Spanish Paprika (Also known as Pimentón)

Depending upon the amount of seeds included when milling the peppers, the flavor profile of Smoky Spanish Paprika ranges from sweet to hot.

There are three types of Spanish Paprika:

1. Dulce (sweet) – Sweet & Smoky flavor, Dark red.

2. Agridulce (bittersweet or semi-sweet) – Bitter & Sharp flavor, Dark Red

3. Picante (hot) – Hot flavor, Deep Dark Red

*Note: Be sure to read the ingredient list on the Paprika before you purchase it. Sometimes, manufacturers add either MSG or an artificial smoky flavor.


Tips for Cooking with Paprika

1. Paprika has a high sugar content. If it is cooked too long, it will become bitter.

2. Both Hot Paprika and Smoked Paprika can easily overpower your recipe. Be sure to adjust the amount of Paprika you use to suit your personal taste.

3. Paprika is a great substitute for chili powder (especially for those who love the flavor of chili powder but can do without the heat). One cool tip that I read is useful when you use too much chili powder. Basically, adding the spice Paprika will balance the heat of the chili powder without disrupting the flavor profile of what you are preparing (rule of thumb is to add double the amount of chili powder).


Nutritional Benefits

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

  • Loaded with vitamin C.
  • Aids digestion
  • Contains anti-oxidants
  • Increases metabolism
  • Clears pulmonary and nasal congestion
  • Improves blood pressure and circulation



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Paprika Party Mix

2 cups raw Almonds

1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1-1/2 tablespoons Sea Salt

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave for 3-4 minutes (in 30 second increments) until golden brown.
  4. Add dried cranberries.
  5. Drizzle the nut/seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/paprika mixture.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Store in an air-tight container.

*Variation: Cumin pairs well with Paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon on cumin seeds to the salt/paprika mixture.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Paprika Fudge

12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate chips

6 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Dark Cocoa

  1. Line a 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and kosher salt.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir vanilla extract.
  4. Spread chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle with the Paprika/Cocoa mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  7. Lift fudge out of pan and peel off the aluminium foil.
  8. Cut into 36 squares.



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Beer Cocktail

(my take on a Michelada…especially for my husband)

1 ice-cold Mexican Beer

2 tablespoons of Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon of Sweet or Hot Paprika

2 tablespoons of fresh Lime Juice

1-2 dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce

1 dash of Soy Sauce

1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Black pepper

  1. Mix together the salt and Paprika on a small plate.
  2. Rim a glass with a little lime juice and then dip in the salt and paprika mixture to cover the top of the glass.
  3. Add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Slowly pour in beer into your prepared glass.

*Note: Not spice enough for you, add more hot sauce or Paprika.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Nuttella Spice-tini

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 oz. Vodka

1 teaspoon Nutella

3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika, divided

1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

1 packet Splenda

  1. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika, Cocoa Powder and Splenda. Set aside.
  2. Add the Chocolate Liqueur, Vodka, Nutella and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika to a Martini shaker.
  3. Whisk rigorously to blend the Nutella.
  4. Add ice and give a good shake.
  5. Rim the glass with vodka, chocolate liqueur or water.
  6. Dip glass into the Sweet Paprika, Cocoa, Splenda mixture.
  7. Carefully pour into prepared glass.

Variation:  If you do not have Nutella, swap out the 1 oz  chocolate liqueur for 1/2 oz.  Add 1/2 oz of Frangelico.


Nutmeg…Naughty or Nice? (nutmeg cookie recipes)

Decisions…decisions…  There are so many spices that remind me of the holidays. 

 Somehow, I landed on Nutmeg because not only does the spice Nutmeg enhance sweet recipes, the spice Nutmeg also enhances savory dishes.  I was really surprised to learn that the spice Nutmeg needs to be used in moderation.  It also has a lot of medicinal and cosmetic benefits.

Is it Naughty or Nice?  That is definitely a matter of opinion….Read below…You Decide.  

Below, I’ve posted a few cookie recipes.  One recipe is for Chocolate Nutmeg Amaretti  (with a sugar-free variation).  The other cookie recipe is for Spice Drops.  This recipe is my take on my husbands favorite Snowball Cookie recipe.



What is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is not a nut.   Nutmeg is the seed from a peach-like fruit that grows on an evergreen tree which is typically harvested in Indonesia.   This peach-like fruit is not considered very tasty and is typically pickled.

Nutmeg is purchased either whole or ground (freshly ground Nutmeg is definitely more flavorful).  Like most spices, it needs to be stored in a cool, dark location.

Why is Nutmeg Naughty?

Nutmeg needs to be used in moderation.  A pinch or two per serving is okay.  However, large doses can trigger vomiting and nausea.  Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid the use of nutmeg.

Culinary Uses

Nutmeg is typically used in sweet dishes like rice pudding, fruit desserts, pancakes, waffles and cakes.   It is also enhances savory dishes…especially recipes that have greens, root vegetables, cheese and eggs.   My mother always adds Nutmeg to the cheese filling for baked lasagne and baked ziti.   So, now I do the same and it really kicks it up a notch.

Of course, with the holidays in full swing, we cannot forget about Eggnog (the recipe calls for Nutmeg).   If you have leftover Eggnog and are not sure what to do with it, check out the recipe that Southern Living Magazine published in December 2009 for Eggnog Cupcakes:  http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000001940930.

Medicinal Benefits  

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

Nutmeg is known to have strong antibacterial properties, aid in digestion, improve appetite, and combat asthma.  I also ready that it is used to relax muscles and treat acne. Nutmeg is also listed as an aphrodisiac.  



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Nutmeg Amaretti Cookies

Yield:  About 48 cookies

2 cups Almonds (whole or slivers)
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
4 tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
4 Egg Whites
good pinch of Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 tablespoon ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
sliced almonds to garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, process almonds with ½ cup of sugar until finely ground and transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in cocoa powder and confectioners sugar.  Set aside.
  4. In medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Sprinkle in remaining ½ cup sugar and beat well until glossy and stiff.  
  6. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
  7. Fold egg whites into almond-sugar mixture.  
  8. Spoon into piping (pastry) bag fitted with plain ½ inch nozzle.
  9. Pipe 1 ½ inches rounds about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.
  10. Press an almond sliver into each cookie.
  11. Bake 12 minutes or until crisp.
  12. Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, drizzle with melted chocolate or dip into melted chocolate and sprinkle with colored sugars or just leave plain..

Sugar-Free Variation:  Substitute the granulated sugar with Splenda.  Substitute the 4 tablespoons of confectioners sugar with 2 tablespoons of Spenda/Brown Sugar Blend.

Blogger’s Comments:  If you do not have a pastry bag, you can use a large ziploc bag and snip the corner.  



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spice Drops

Yield:  About 48 cookies

½ cup Granulated Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Shortening
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
½ cup Butter, softened
2-1/4 cups Flour
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg  
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Cardamom
½ cup Confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add ½ cup confectioner’s sugar to a large ziploc bag and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugars, butter and shortening.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and beat until blended.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the remaining ingredients.
  6. Slowly add dry ingredients to the sugar-butter mixture and beat until well blended.
  7. Roll heaping teaspoons of the cookie dough into balls.
  8. Place on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart from each other.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes.
  10. Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes.
  11. Transfer warm cookies to the ziploc back and shake to coat with confectioners sugar.  
  12. Place on wire rack to cool completely.

Variation:  Before baking, Roll the cookie dough ball into the colored sugar.  Skip the steps to roll in confectioner’s sugar.

Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Gingerbread Bon Bons

Here is a recipe that you can enjoy without the guilt! This super-moist pumpkin gingerbread is shaped into little balls and dipped in a chocolate coating.  They are amazing.  

The cake will be very moist which will make it easier to shape the cake into balls.

The calories are reduced by substituting pumpkin puree in place of eggs and butter. I also swapped out the milk with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  This leaves room to allow for a little chocolate… It is a dessert after all…




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Gingerbread Bon Bons

1 15 oz. package Hodgson Mill Gingerbread Mix (100% Whole Grain)
1 15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree
1 teaspoon Gypsy World Spice Cafe’s Sweet Spice (or substitute with Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 package Chocolate Bark Coating (12 squares)
½ teaspoon Gypsy World Spice Cafe’s Spiced Cocoa (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, pumpkin, almond milk, vanilla extract and sweet spice on low until ingredients are blended. Then increase speed to high and mix for 3 minutes.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely.
  7. Roll 1 tablespoon portions of cake into balls.
  8. Using instructions on package of chocolate bark coating, melt the chocolate.
  9. Stir in spiced cocoa (optional).
  10. Dip cake balls into the melted chocolate and set on wax paper to harden.
  11. Decorate with candies or nuts.

Blogger’s Comment: The cake is also very good on it’s own dusted with confectioner sugar or served with whipped cream.

Spicy Mocha Cupcakes

This week I needed to make cupcakes for a bake sale at the office to benefit a charity.  Since this bake sale was geared toward adults, I decided to go for a spicy chocolate cupcake infused with the flavor of coffee…

The below recipes reference some of my Spice Blends.  Spiced Cocoa is a blend of dark unsweetened cocoa, cayenne pepper and other spices to enhance the flavor of the cocoa and balance the cayenne pepper.  Sweet Spice is a blend of cinnamon and other unique spices.  




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Mocha Cupcakes

1/3 cup half & half
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons Gypsy World Spice Cafe Spiced Cocoa
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup coffee, chilled
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips with half & half in a small bowl.  
  • Microwave chocolate chips / half&half for 25-30 seconds intervals until chocolate chips are softened.  
  • Stir in Spiced Cocoa and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  
  • Add sugar to butter and beat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs (one at a time).  Beat well after each egg is added.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.
  • Alternate adding flour and coffee to the butter/sugar mixture while mixing until well combined.
  • Stir in vanilla and melted chocolate.
  • Fill cupcake liner 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  • Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  • Frost with Sweet Spice Buttercream Frosting (see below).  
  • Decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans. (optional)

Blogger’s Comment:   If you want to try this recipe, swap out the Spiced Cocoa for 2  tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice.  It won’t have the heat…but will be very tasty.


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Sweet Spice Buttercream Frosting

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon Gypsy World Spice Cafe Sweet Spice
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a medium bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, milk, sweet spice and  vanilla with a mixer.
  2. Beat for 1-2 minutes until very creamy. ( Add more milk if it consistency is too thick).

 Blogger’s Comment:   If you want to try this recipe, swap out the Sweet Spice for Cinnamon.


Ali Love Cakes

My niece is getting married this December.  Recently, I attended her bridal shower.  My task was to make the bridal shower cake.  Immediately I knew that this cake had to not only be special…it had to be creative and incorporate spices (…especially since this special bride-to-be was a flower girl at my wedding).

I had read while doing my research for  my “Celebrate Cinnamon” article, that Cinnamon paired really well with dried Roses.  This sounded so romantic and inspired new sweet and savory recipes.  Below, you will find the bridal shower cake recipe that triggered  this article — “Ali Love Cakes”.   

So, dedicating this article to this young bride-to-be and her future husband….  May they be blessed with a life that is rich in love and joy….



Are Roses Edible?

Yes, Roses are edible.  The darker the rose, the more flavorful the Rose will be.  

Note:  Be sure that when you purchasing edible Rose products that you ensure that they were grown for culinary purposes (to avoid pesticides/chemicals).   

Culinary Uses

The white portion of Rose petals are bitter and it is recommended that you remove that part of the Rose petal before cooking with them.   Try adding Rose petals to your salads.  Also you can crush dried Rose petals and add them to savory or sweet dishes.  Another way to add Rose flavor is by substituting Rosewater for recipes that call for vanilla extract (or try 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 Rosewater).

If you like tea, try adding a few dried rose petals with your favorite dried tea leaves.  Check out the Etsy.com shop, Most Natually.  The “Love Tea” from this shop is very good.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MostNaturally?section_id=6614021.

Cosmetic Uses

Indulge in a facial steam.  Put dried Roses in a bowl.  Add boiling water and place your face over the bowl (while draping your head with a towel).  Steam for 15-20 minutes.
Take a luxurious bath.  Try adding dried Roses to your bath water or try adding dried Roses to your bath salts.

Make your own facial toner.  I’ve been a fan of witch hazel for years.  Add 1 part of dried Roses to 6 parts witch hazel.



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Ali Love Cakes

“Ali Love Cakes” are rose & cinnamon flavored pound mini-bundt cakes that were dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with lavender infused melted white chocolate and then filled with a rose, cinnamon & vanilla buttercream.  To finish the mini-bundt cake, I topped cake with gum paste Christmas Roses and Edible White Pearls.  The bride-to-be loved them…   

Check out http://www.shopbakersnook.com for great cake decorating products…

1 box pound cake mix                   (I used Betty Crocker)
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Rosewater

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray mini-bundt cake pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add cake mix, milk, eggs, cinnamon and Rosewater to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix on low for 30 seconds.
  5. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  6. Fill each mini-bundt halfway.  Smooth tops with a spoon.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).
  8. Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  9. When cool, dust the mini-bundt cakes with powdered sugar.
  10. Drizzle with “Lavender White Chocolate Drizzle” (see recipe listed below)
  11. Fill the center of the mini-bundt cakes with Cinnamon-Rose Buttercream Filling  (see recipe listed below)
  12. Decorate with candies, gum paste flowers or edible roses.



Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Lavender White Chocolate Drizzle

3 tablespoons half&half
1 teaspoon dried lavender (culinary use only)
1/2 bag of white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Rosewater

  1. In a small bowl, heat half&half in the microwave for 45 seconds.  
  2. Add dried lavender.  Cover with plastic wrap and steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Heat lavender infused half&half for 1 minute.
  4. Add the white chocolate chips, Rosewater and vanilla to the lavender infused half&half.
  5. Stir until smooth.  


Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Cinnamon-Rose Buttercream Filling

1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Rosewater
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pistachios (optional)

  1. In a medium bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, milk, ground cinnamon, Rosewater and  vanilla with a mixer.
  2. Beat for 1-2 minutes until very creamy. ( Add more milk if it consistency is too thick).
  3. Stir in chopped pistachios (optional)

Recipe – Festive Fall Mini Cookie Cupcakes


It has happened to all of us.   Your child comes home from school with a note that says that you need to send in some baked goods for the next day.   You think about what to make …and start searching  your pantry to see what you have to work with… 

After all, who wants to run out to the grocery store?  ….Especially after a busy day!

With all the Fall Parties at school this time a year, I developed the recipe just in case this happens…  My son and I were brainstorming some ideas.   They love helping with this blog project.  (Probably because they like eating the goodies..LOL)   Anyway, he asked if I could make a make a cookie that was crispy and chewy at the same time…  In my pantry I had a box of purchased cookie mix….  We were good to go…. The recipe we created resulted in mini-cupcakes that had a cookie top and a cupcake bottom.    He loved them and took them for snack every day last week. 




Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Festive Fall Mini Cookie Cupcakes

Yields:  About 24 Mini Cookie Cupcakes

1 box Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix

1 large Egg

1 stick Butter, softened

2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder

3 teaspoons Cinnamon, divided

2 tablespoons Water

1/2 container Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla

Festive Fall Sprinkles (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a mini muffin pan with liners.  
  3. Open the cookie mix up and set aside (or toss) the spice packet that came with the cookie mix.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the cookie mix, egg, butter, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon , cocoa powder and water until well blended.
  5. Fill muffin liners about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until done.  They will be dimpled on top.
  7. Let the mini cupcakes cool on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile, use a spatula to scoop out 1/2 container of pre-made chocolate fudge frosting into a small bowl.
  9. Stir in vanilla and remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
  10. When cookie cupcakes are cool, top with frosting and sprinkles.