Have you ever wondered where you could get quality spices for all of your cooking and baking needs? Well… Have you?
Look no further than The Spice House! The Spice House opened its doors back in 1957, and today has both a robust online business as well as 5 locations throughout Chicago & Milwaukee. They carry over 600 products from at least 50 different countries, including pure spices and herbs, spice blends, salts, and extracts and have caught the admiration of many home cooks across the country as well as some heavy hitters in the food world, including Alton Brown & Julia Child!
Alton Brown filmed his famous “Good Eats Fruitcake Episode” at their Evanston shop 15 years ago and recently had Patty and Tom on his Podcast – The AltonBrowncast Episode 23. The Spice House also happens to make 3 special blends for Alton, which you can find here. You know Alton Brown knows a good thing when he finds one! Many of Chicago’s top chefs walk through The Spice House doors for inspiration, “secret ingredients” and all around quality spices. Julia Child once proclaimed The Spice House a “national treasure”!
Tom & Patty took over Patty’s parents business back in 1993 and have built The Spice House into what it is today – A resource for incredible spices and seasonings, as fresh as you can get them at an affordable price. They scour the world for the best ingredients and spices. From large farm collaboratives in exotic countries to boutique farmers who specialize in items not commercially produced, like one special connection they have with a friend’s mother who just so happens to own a vanilla plantation in Tahiti, where only a limited amount of beans are produced and they’re very, very expensive. “We have a really great connection with that farm, and we’ll get maybe 20 pounds of Tahitian vanilla beans month”.
“That wouldn’t work for huge spice companies but it works well for us” says Patty. There is a reason vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world…did you know it can take up to 8 years to harvest a vanilla bean start to finish?”
To bring you the freshest ingredients possible The Spice House grinds and blends their spices and seasonings in small batches right in their stores which is why as you approach a store and walk through its doors you are greeted with the most intoxicating aroma!
Many of their spices come in pretty glass jars; however you can order many varieties in bags (as well as in salt-free versions. And let me say, you will be blown away by their pricing! Their gift boxes are both gorgeous and well thought out. The thought they put into their gift box packaging is something you seldom see these days. They include whole nutmegs, cinnamon sticks and packaging you can actually use! Their delivery is super quick, which impressed me. Take a few minutes and peruse their offerings and prepare to be captivated!
Once you try The Spice House…you just may fall in love with their quality, pricing and friendly service!
Now let’s talk about this ice cream. Every summer I pull out my ice cream machine (Josie2) with the intention of adding a cinnamon concoction to it and watch it swirl and chill itself into a creamy frozen treat. Yet for some reason, that jammy never happens. And I finally figured out why. Depth. Yes, the mere thought of cinnamon ice cream sends me in a tizzy; however, spooning cinnamon ice cream in my mouth requires mega depth.
How does one achieve the mega depth level? By adding 3 types of cinnamon and vanilla powder – That’s how.
Flow with me…
I love the vanilla powder from the Spice House. It smells like, Holy Vanilla, Batman! Along with vanilla powder, I steeped cinnamon sticks with milk, heavy cream, and sweetened condensed milk for about 45 minutes. I was left with a scented cinnamon and vanilla milky jammy, which I cooked with egg yolks for a super creamy base.
As my ice cream custard cooled I added a mix of Vietnamese and Chinese ground cinnamon. Have you tried Vietnamese ground cinnamon? Now is the time, homies. It’s intensely sweet and a bit hot. It’s like cinnamon on crack. I love it. Chinese cinnamon is a bit milder, more like a background singer to Mariah Carey or something. I added more Chinese cinnamon than Vietnamese to the custard – ‘Cause one day backup singers get a solo, right? But feel free to play with the cinnamon combo here.
Now we all know how I like to do that thing Jack Nicholson does in The Shining, right? How I like to burst open the flavor door? Not with an ax, of course… Or with murderous intentions. But I like to kick flavor doors off their hinges and whatnot.
I added dulce de leche to this jammy. What’s best is – Dulce de leche never freezes solid. It remains creamy and dreamy and goooood. You can never add too much. I spooned the ice cream onto a loaf pan in layers while still soft and added anywhere from 6-8 small scoops of dulce de leche atop each layer before spooning more ice cream over it. It’s like the BEST surprise situation. Think about it. You’re scooping ice cream, minding your biz – And then suddenly you scoop a nice thick swirl of dulce de leche. That jammy makes me just want to sing.
For everyone to hear.
So there’s mega depth in this 3 layer cinnamon situation – Layers ranging from mild like a backup singer to intense like cinnamon on crack. PLUS vanilla powder, which by the way is what the stairway to heaven smells like – AND a dulce de leche surprise. All in one ice cream scoop.
You want this ice cream now, don’t you?
Of course you do…
Disclosure situations: I was given a gift card to order spices as compensation for this post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 - 1 scant cup condensed milk*
- 8-10 cinnamon sticks
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla powder
- 5 egg yolks
- 3/4 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Chinese cinnamon
- Dulce de Leche as much as you want!
- In a m medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and condensed milk. Stir until the condensed has been completely incorporated into the milk and heavy cream. Add the cinnamon sticks and vanilla powder. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat. Once the mixture has simmered, turn off the heat and allow to steep for 45 minutes to 1 hour. As the mixture steeps, separate the egg yolks and place in a large bowl.
- Add ice water to a bowl large enough to hold ice water and bowl with the egg yolks.The cinnamon mixture should be properly steeped and cooled by now. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks from the cinnamon mixture and pour it over the egg yolks, whisking all the while until completely incorporated. Pour the custard in a medium saucepan (use the same pan you used to steep the cinnamon mixture). Cook the custard over medium/low heat, stirring the ENTIRE TIME until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly.
- Pour the mixture into the bowl you used for the egg yolks and nestle it in between the bowl of ice water. Add the Vietnamese and Chinese cinnamon and whisk until the cinnamon is completely mixed in and there are no visible clumps of cinnamon powder. Stir the mixture occasionally until completed cooled.
- Once cooled place the custard in an airtight container and store in the fridge for about 4 hours or overnight to steep and deepen the flavor. Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions.
- If you wish, you can freeze the custard right away. It's cool. I refer to steep for a bit prior to freezing.
- Once the ice cream has frozen, pour about 1/3 of the ice cream in desired vessel (I used a loaf pan). Add 6-9 (or 9-12) small scoops of dulce de leche and pour another layer of ice cream, followed by 6-9 (or 9-12) small scoops of dulce de leche. Add the remaining ice cream and if desired, add more scoops of dulce de leche. Cover and place in the freezer for about 4-5 hours until completely frozen.