Despite its all-encompassing name, allspice actually has quite a distinctive flavor—warm, peppery, the hallmark of both densely sweet gingerbread and fiery Jamaican jerk chicken. It’s a dried berry from an evergreen tree native to the Caribbean and Central America. The ancient Maya were said to have used it in religious ceremonies, and Europeans tried to cultivate it (to little avail) after Christopher Columbus brought it back to Spain. Rich in spicy essential oil, the ground spice is great in baked goods and savory dishes alike.
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