Cooking With Spices, With Holiday Recipes For Star Anise, Cassia And Mace

'Tis the season for warm spices. But there's a world beyond the basics, and often all a dish needs to go from good to grand is a simple but surprising addition. Start by swapping these three in for old spice standbys; for a source, look no further than Chicago's own hub of flavor, The Spice House.

Use star anise instead of cloves Star anise takes partial credit for the heady spice of Vietnamese pho and Chinese five-spice powder, but is just as at home with sweets and wine-poached fruits. Spike sugar cookies with ground star anise (The Spice House grinds theirs on the premises), or use it whole in star anise ice cream (click here to download the recipe).

Swap cinnamon for cassia buds They may look like cloves, but these dried buds of the cinnamon tree have an exotically floral, nutty scent–much like a mix of cinnamon and black pepper. Add ground cassia to stewed and roasted fruits, or mull wine or rum with the whole buds.

Try nutmeg's fraternal twin, mace Mace is the thin, lacy, orange membrane covering nutmeg. More perfumed and floral than the nutmeg fruit, it adds subtle spice to cakes, cookies and pies. Use it in an apple-and-dried fruit chutney (click here to download the recipe) to pair with cheese, spice cake or roasted meats.