A few words about cinnamon and cassia, notably, why I use Vietnamese cinnamon, which actually is cassia because it comes from the cassia tree. You might have noticed that I use it when I bake. Why? Let me back up…
My friend Mary introduced me to it a few years ago. She had raved about it after buying it at Detroit’s Eastern Market. She uses it in her baking and adds a little bit to her morning coffee. My interest was piqued. So, when I was in Michigan this past summer, she and I made an excursion to Eastern Market and I picked up a packet for myself and one for my mom.
Ceylon cinnamon (common, “true” cinnamon) comes from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, while cassia comes from both the inner and outer bark of the cassia tree. Vietnamese cassia is harvested and processed differently than Ceylon cinnamon and is more aromatic and spicier than the different grades of Indonesian cassia that is sold in supermarkets. Honestly, once I opened the packet, my nose could instantly smell a difference between it and my regular cinnamon.
So now when I bake and cook I prefer using Vietnamese cinnamon (yes, I still call it cinnamon, even though it’s actually cassia) in place of regular cinnamon. You can order online via Penzey’s or, if you see it in your local market, pick up some and try it in place of cinnamon…you’ll see/smell that there is a definite difference.