brunch, desserts, feast magazine article

feast magazine, december 2014: vietnamese cinnamon + goat cheese individual soufflés with vanilla bean crème anglaise.

feast magazine, december 2014: cinnamon goat cheese souffles with vanilla creme anglaise.

In which I demystify an ingredient that isn’t so mysterious. Vietnamese cinnamon: you probably have it in your spice cabinet. You may be using it right now. It’s not uncommon: Penzey’s sells it by its full name as part of their line of fancy cinnamons (you’ll note that Penzey’s declares the Vietnamese variety “extra fancy,” and I would agree), but it’s available all over, in almost any brand, discreetly named “cinnamon.” Sneaky.

There are differences in this type versus the Chinese ceylon cinnamon is that it’s not actually “true” cinnamon: rather, it’s cassia bark. which you’ll note from the photo in Feast, is not the curly tube you’re used to seeing. Think of the two types as weather for a moment: Chinese ceylon is a breezy day, the kind you remember from childhood playground trips, where Vietnamese cinnamon is the day with strong winds and dark clouds approaching. It’s more intense, more there, than the relatively passive Chinese variety, more spicy than sweet, more up front than background. Vietnamese cassia comes from older trees and has a higher oil content, making for easy dispersal into baked goods like all those holiday treats you have in mind.

feast magazine, december 2014: cinnamon goat cheese souffles with vanilla creme anglaise.

Is there a difference, really? I know some of you are asking that, and yes, there is definitely a difference in how they behave and how they’ll make your final product taste. None of this is to say I have trashed my Chinese ceylon; I just have specific things I use each cinnamon type for. For instance, savory dishes involving cinnamon really benefit from my Vietnamese cinnamon’s spice and strength, but i’ll always make my grandma’s New York style coffee cake with the Chinese type, simply because I think the lighter cinnamon works better there, almost as a nostalgia flavor. Vietnamese cinnamon in yeast-based sweets is perfect because it gets all up in your buns and breads, and the flavor really shines. My rule: if I want cinnamon to be the main thing in a dish, or there’s the word “cinnamon” in the title, it’s Vietnamese cassia for the win. A must in your pantry, especially during the holiday season.


So go get some! And then you can make these soufflés, which taste (not kidding) just like fluffy snickerdoodles: not kidding, and I know how much all of you like those. Lest you think soufflés are difficult, they’re really not: especially the small ones, which always seem less stressful than the one big soufflé option. And if you ever had the desire to dip your snickerdoodles in vanilla bean cream? Wish = granted: Ié made a vanilla crème anglaise to smother them with. You’re welcome.

You guys, I usually go into greater detail about this month’s Feast magazine in these posts, but truth time: I don’t even have my copy yet. We were out of town and had such a nice time over Thanksgiving weekend – not kidding, I actually donned running tights and ran stairs dockside, which can only mean I was on some sort of unseasonably warm weather high – but that all came crashing down when we returned Sunday, sick as dogs. I blame the weather. It’s safe to say I’ve gotten zero done because, frankly, snuggling with the Wee One is way better than working, but today I should be able to catch up. Perhaps you’ve had a chance to pick up Feast, locals (regionals)? The cover looks amazing, and I can hardly wait to see what’s inside. Yeah, I know it’s online: I like my initial experience to be in print. Cold, hard print.

See you soon! I actually did tons of baking a few weeks ago in preparation for December on the blog. It’s new years’ resolution time, where I admit my shortcomings and tell you my plans for 2015: fun for everyone. Some of those resolutions involve you: it’s time to reboot the Just One Question Project, so get ready for an email to those of you who participated last year talking about that a bit more. So much going on; so much to do! Welcome to December, everyone.

You want to learn more about Vietnamese cinnamon and why it’s the best thing ever? read more here, and get the recipe for these swoony little soufflés. And be a responsible human being and read the rest of Feast this month; you’ll be one step ahead of me. Probably many steps.

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  • Reply Brianne December 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

    This sounds amazing. Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies. I don’t have Vietnamese cinnamon in my kitchen; I went to buy some at the grocery store for holiday baking (you know, the stuff labeled “Saigon” cinnamon) and they were out. I guess that’s an excuse to order from Penzey’s again…! I’m so glad you enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend away!

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 8:58 am

      These are a personal favorite of mine too: really, our entire family goes crazy over the thought of snicker doodles, so these were sort of a natural thing to think of doing. the vietnamese cinnamon is such a great way to make them too: so much more pronounced cinnamon flavor, and spiciness for DAYS. I’m happy to give you a reason to place a Penzey’s order, Brianne: anytime you need one, you let me know. 🙂

  • Reply Wendy December 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

    All my favorites in one sweet little souffle! I am such a goat cheese addict! Looks and sounds luscious, Shannon! I always get so excited when I actually have all of the ingredients for one of your recipes. I know the point of your features for Feast is often to introduce us to possibly unknown but shouldn’t be missed ingredients, but I am not as organized as I would like about making shopping lists and trying recipes. If the ingredients are on hand, the recipe gets made. Actually, I am especially interested in trying this with my mostly unused Vietnamese cinnamon. I don’t like it as much as my beloved and adored Chinese “Tung Hung” Cassia Cinnamon in baked goods. I am excited to have a recipe where the Vietnamese cinnamon will shine. Sorry to hear you all were unwell after Thanksgiving. I hope you are all feeling much better. I had been wondering about the One Question project and had assumed it was dropped due to the limits of 24 hour days. 🙂 I am looking forward to seeing what you have in store.

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:07 am

      yay! so happy you like them, Wendy! I completely understand the thrill of having ingredients at the ready when you want to make something: that’s the best feeling ever, and i’m happy i’ve given you a reason to use your vietnamese cinnamon. 🙂 I think people don’t always realize it, but the two types are very difference, and chances are, everyone has a preference for one over the other. I know i love this type in things, but there are other baked goods i prefer your favorite Cassia cinnamon in as well: i’m Switzerland, i guess, with the cinnamons. 🙂
      Obviously it’s been a few weeks now *ahem so behind* :), and thankfully, the sick didn’t last long and we have been mostly well ever since: a huge change from last year when my little one was sick for the better part of late fall and winter. Definitely will be getting back to normal around here soon, including the Just One Question project, which will resume shortly: i’m really looking forward to talking to everyone again on that level. although i haven’t had the time in recent months to work on the project, i’ve missed the conversations terribly, and i can’t wait to start it up. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley December 2, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I need a larger baking dish so I can literally dive headfirst into one of these warm snickerdoodles with creme anglaise! Seriously, you are a genius. And I love your methodology for choosing between types of cinnamon. And that you distinguish between the different types of cinnamon. It makes the spice nerd in me so happy. 🙂

    Hope you’re feeling better! I’m so excited for the holidays (because the parties, the family, the decorations, and the BAKING!). I located my list of possible things-to-bake from last year and added to it. Now it’s decision and strategic planning time! Your holiday twist on Momofuku’s cake truffles is totally making the cut this year.

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:10 am

      you know, Ashley, I thought my vietnamese cinnamon choice for december would be an easy one, but as it turns out, i didn’t know nearly enough about the hows and whys of each type of cinnamon and how they work in recipes: i’m happy i did this one b/c i learned a bunch from it also. and also, sweet goat cheese soufflés were all over my house and i got to eat most all of them, so win there as well. 🙂

      sheesh! holidays = over, and i hope you had a lovely one with friends and family: i owe you an email and i’m looking forward to catching up! 🙂

  • Reply elizabeth December 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I have a souffle that has been sorely neglected, and I think this is the perfect excuse to pull it out. (I know you suggest using the individual ramekins, but I’m a rebel and I also got a little drool-y thinking about big hunks of this drizzled with the creme anglaise.

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:11 am

      I say big hunks of this would be PERFECT, Elizabeth. I’d go big: a simple time adjustment, i’m sure, and you’d have one fat puffy cloud of snicker doodle soufflé on your hands. I’d be completely fine with that. 🙂

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs December 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Fluffy snickerdoodles? Who can resist that?! Sounds like a fantastic recipe. And thanks for reminding me I need to search out a new edition of Feast. 🙂

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

      thanks, John! There’s really nothing better than a fluffy snicker doodle, at least in my opinion. hope you had a lovely holiday season!

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats December 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    These look BEYOND gorgeous. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some ramekins…

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

      i hope you asked for ramekins for christmas, because miniature soufflés are perfect. like cookies, in that you’re really not supposed to share them.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog December 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

    All along I’ve been using fancy cinnamon? Huh. I think they would sell more cinnamon if they used its proper Vietnamese title. I can’t tell you how much I love these mini soufflés: 1. I don’t have to share, 2. I’m all about the goat cheese, and 3. creme anglaise. This is pure epic deliciousness.

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:14 am

      who knew! 🙂 I think early on in my baking life i would use them interchangeably without much thought (like i would do tahitian and madagascar vanilla without thinking about it too much), but i did start to notice a difference when i began to bake more, mostly in flavor, but definitely in the way they acted in things as well.
      I like your style, jennie: anytime something says “individual”, no matter how large, it means no sharing. none.

  • Reply Katherine (eggton) December 6, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I just want to push a spoon into ALL of these souffles–they are just jumping off the screen!

    But hey–do we have this grandmother’s New York-style coffee cake recipe? I searched your archives and I think we do not. I *love* coffee cakes. Hit us up!

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:17 am

      i completely relate to that feeling, Katherine. COMPLETELY.

      you know what? i had to basically pry this coffee cake recipe from my mother’s hands this past christmas, and so you shall have it, and hopefully very soon. Without expressed permission from anyone in my family, mind you, but they really should know by now that any recipe is fair game around here.

  • Reply Emma December 8, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Nooooo don’t get siiiick! Get better!! I hope that you’re better by now.

    I don’t have any of this kind of cinnamon either. I’ve always thought of it being a bit strong for me, but now that I’m getting better with spice, maybe I’ll do better with strong cinnamon.

    • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:19 am

      I’m better! we’re good! and miraculously we have stayed better, for the most part, all winter: no small feat considering last year we were just sick on and off for what seemed like forever. yay!

      it is quite strong, which is why i don’t always use it: it depends on the baked goods i’m making and what flavor i want to achieve, but always in savory recipes calling for cinnamon, just because it tends to hold up better and provide a spice versus a sweetness to the dish. i think i notice the spice part of the vietnamese cinnamon less in savory dishes, simply b/c other strong flavors tend to surround it.

  • Reply Monica December 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    What a souffle! It’s definitely better than a snickerdoodle, and you’ve now got me thinking about cinnamon and how it’s been way too long since I’ve made or had a souffle. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!

  • Reply shannon January 6, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I hope you had a wonderful holiday season as well, Monica! too bad it took me forever to get back to working. *whoops*. 🙂 I’m happy you liked it: really, everyone should make soufflés more often; i grew up thinking they were super hard, and there was always that joke about slamming the oven too hard around a soufflé, etc, but i’ve never had issues with one (and that’s me, who has issues with EVERYTHING, so…a good sign). 🙂

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