Mexican Cinnamon sticks are actually Ceylon Cinnamon sticks imported almost exclusively from the Island of Sri Lanka. Soft and easily to crumble or grind. it is known as Canela in Mexico. A subtle sophisticated taste that never overpowers a recipe and adds to depth of flavor. Mexican Cinnamon or Ceylon Cinnamon is very fragrant and the only Cinnamon that should be used in all traditional Mexican recipes.
Mexicans who immigrated to the United States forget this distinction and start using far inferior and very different Cassia Cinnamon which is what is available in the United States. And they wonder why the recipe is not quite the same as back at home. It never strikes them, it is the type of Cinnamon they used.
Many US Mexican stores sell Cassia Cinnamon because of the difficulty of getting real Mexican Cinnamon. If you see Cinnamon sticks at a Mexican store don't automatically assume it is real Mexican Cinnamon, which is soft and fragile and not hard and brittle like Cassia Cinnamon is.
The taste profile, the aroma and color of Mexican or Ceylon Cinnamon is very different and substituting Cassia Cinnamon for Mexican cinnamon will give you very different results. Hard to believe but true.
The Mexican name for Cinnamon is Canela. The vast bulk of Cinnamon that Mexico consumes (96%) is imported Ceylon Cinnamon. Ceylon Cinnamon or to give its proper scientific name Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, comes from the tiny Island of Sri Lanka located on the southern tip of India.
According to the UN COMTRADE figures, in 2011 Mexico imported US$65 million worth of Ceylon Cinnamon out of which $63 Million was Ceylon Cinnamon. That means per capita consumption of Cinnamon in Mexico, especially Ceylon Cinnamon is the highest in the World.
This tradition of Ceylon Cinnamon consumption maybe why Mexico has one of the lowest cancer rates in the world. But increasingly this tradition is being eroded as US style drinks become more popular. This together with an explosion of sugar consumption in soft drinks and processed has made the diabetes problem even worse in Mexico than the United States. The answer may lie in getting back to cinnamon consumption and reducing their huge sugar consumption levels.
Mexico inherited this Ceylon Cinnamon tradition from Spain which brought a variety of spices from the orient including Ceylon Cinnamon. With this they create multi layered flavors, where Cinnamon is an essential flavor but never takes center stage.
Mexican Cinnamon sticks are sweet, mild and has a more complex flavor compared to the common Cassia Cinnamon found in the USA. They are made with soft layers of Cinnamon bark from the Cinnamon tree, rolled like a cigar and light brown in color. Cassia Cinnamon is a darker brown color and very hard. Mexican cinnamon is delicate and fragile and easy to break apart. Often a bit of the stick is broken and added to many Mexican recipes. Other times it's ground into a fine powder for more complex recipes like Mole.
MEXICAN CINNAMON RECIPES
Te De Canela
- Half stick of Cinnamon with lime juice. Traditionally Te de Canela was served in Mexico as a morning tea. Get the recipe here.
- Mexican cooks have been enthusiastic masters of blending Cinnamon with Chocolate to created a unique flavors. The best known of this is that to this is Mole Pablano, which
is an intimidating and very complex dish with 30 ingredients.
- A specialty of Oaxaca, this chicken and almond sauce is twice flavored with cinnamon: once in the fragrant broth and again in the ground ingredients that make the mole - Classic Red Mole
- During the autumn months, sweet potatoes are sold ready-cooked in Mexico's markets. They come in a variety of colors, including white, yellow and purple. True yams ( Dioscorea bulbifera
), the tubers of a tropical vine, are found more frequently in southern Mexico, where they are typically prepared as a sweet. Either sweet potatoes or yams can be used in this recipe.
Camotes: Mexican Sweet Potatoes
- Another classic Mexican recipe, this rice milk is comes into it's own with Cinnamon - Horchata
- A beverage popular in Mexico made from slightly fermented pineapple flavored with piloncillo, cloves and canela (cinnamon) - Tepache
Atole de Canela
- A sweet, creamy milk drink served hot, infused with cinnamon. Great for winter - video
Polvorones de Canele
- This classic Mexican Cinnamon cookie is fabulous. A staple at many Mexican weddings where the table is piled high with Polvorones de Canele
, Sure it has sugar but the Cinnamon will modulate the sugar high and balance it out. Cinnamon was made for sweets. - Polvorones de Canele
- Very populat at Mexican holiday parties. This warm, spiced Christmas punch is made by simmering Mexican fruits with cane sugar and spices . Served in Mexico on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and during the posadas, the 9 day Celebration leading up to Christmas. During the festive season, steaming hot Ponche is always kept ready for guests. - Ponche Navideño: Holiday Punch
- Strawberry Empanada -
- Cochinitas: Piggy Cookies