Food Hack: Chinese Five Spice Powder

This is a quick post for today, I just wanted to share one of my absolute favorite spices and two ways I use it: Chinese Five Spice Powder. This spice mix is usually a combination of white pepper, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and clove. The first time I had it was actually while attending a conference at a Disney resort. They had made truffles and topped it with the spice. The combination with chocolate was so good I have looked for it as a dessert every year at the conference since then. Unfortunately, I have not seen it.

When I first started experimenting with Instant Pot cooking, I tried making Chinese Spareribs. That recipe was an epic failure which has not been attempted again, but one of the ingredients was Chinese Five Spice Powder. I could not find the blend anywhere in stores here in Southern Maryland. I probably could have found it at the Asian grocery, but one night it just popped up as a suggested Amazon purchase (is’t the algorithm scary?!). So now that I had this ingredient and it’s initial purpose was a bust, I needed to find another use for it. I remembered the treat I had at Disney and decided to try something:

We were hosting a dinner party and one of the guests brought yummy brownies from BJs. I decided to try to kick them up a notch. I added the spice blend from my pantry to the brownies and oh my goodness were they good. It reminded me of Mexican Chocolate which has a dash of cinnamon or chili added to it. It was so good, I plan on making other chocolate desserts using the spice. I think cookies will be my next experiment. Maybe something like a snickerdoodle, only chocolate.

I also tried my spice expirament for something more savory. For Thanksgiving, we hosted my in-laws and one of them is keto. Well, guess what spice is keto-friendly? I have been trying to convince my in-laws to the benefit of the Instant Pot. So I made my Instant Pot Acorn Squash recipe (which is my top post on NQSH!) but I made it a little different by adding some Chinese Five Spice Powder to it. My father-in-law can be picky when it comes to food, but he loved it. It smelled like fall and tasted just as yummy.

If you have any other ideas for using this spice (other than the ribs), I would love to hear about them! Post your suggestions in the comments.

Yummm…

I am sitting here wondering what to write about. I kinda wish that I had a new book review to post or something, but no such luck. To be honest, I have kinda been slacking when it comes to writing or reading anything. I did however bake a wonderful cake for my husband the other day.

My intention was not to bake a cake. I was going to make brownies. Now making brownies may sound simple to you, but not to me. I have a self imposed restriction against baking them. Don’t get me wrong, I love brownies. I love eating them. But the brownies don’t like me making them. True to past history, I mixed all my ingredients together and reached into the jumbo warehouse sized box of brownie mix for a pouch (see we really like brownies!) when chocolate powder went flying. The bag had been split open. I reached for the last bag only to find that one too had been split open. Now my parents taught me well that if a package is open, not to use it.

Here I was with my eggs and oil mixed together and my oven pre-heated. I really wanted something chocolate. I did have the ingredients to make something from scratch, but in the back of my pantry I found a box of Devil’s Food Cake mix. All I needed to do was add another egg and some more water.

Now this is probably why baking brownies and I don’t get along. Of course, I couldn’t leave the mix un-tweaked. I added a box of Jello instant chocolate pudding to the mix.  The batter instantly took on the airy consistency of pudding. Now I couldn’t leave it just like that. I took a bottle of caramel syrup and drizzled it over the top of the cake batter.

Because I added so much to the mix, I did have to leave it in the oven slightly longer than the cake box recommended. It was worth it. The cake was so moist and the caramel had baked into the batter giving it an interesting flavor. No icing needed for this rich decadent treat.

This will definitely be a repeat recipe.