Revisiting 10: Dare, sweet spice

Once more unto the pumpkin spice, dear friends, once more. We’ve been there twice already in the past week, on the 20th in “A processed food flavor” (about pumpkin (pie) spice, hereafter ps) and on the 23rd in “The pumpkin spice cartoon meme”. Now, from Canada (via Chris Ambidge), comes this:

(#1) Dare cookies with ps cream / creme / crème filling

The allusion to pumpkin (pie) in the name of the spice mix locates ps as an autumnal flavor, suitable for foods (especially pumpkin pie) at Halloween and (American and Canadian) Thanksgiving and Christmas. But ps mix is suitable for flavoring sweet foods of many kinds, and should not be tied so closely to a season.

In fact, ps food doesn’t need to contain (any) actual spices, but could merely have the appropriate artificial flavors, mimicking some or all of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and maybe allspice. The Dare company maintains that their ps cream cookies contain real pumpkin and actual spices, but of course no cream (though they do contain whey).

To come: Dare and their products (Canadian Whippets!), spice mixes (their ingredients and their names), and subsective (or not) compounds.

Dare. About the company, from Wikipedia:

Dare Foods, Limited is a Canada-based food manufacturing company. They have seven factories in Canada and the United States. Their products are distributed in North America and at least 25 other countries.

The founder of Dare Foods, Charles H. Doerr, started off in 1892 by making and selling cookies and candies in a small grocery shop in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. By 1919 he created the C.H. Doerr Company that distributed his goods within the Ontario area. In 1941, Charles’ grandson, Carl Doerr, took over the business and legally changed the name to “Dare” because it was easier to pronounce. Dare products became more popular Canada-wide by 1954 and began exporting to the U.S. in 1956.

Creme sandwich cookies from Dare: maple leaf creme, pumpkin spice creme, lemon creme, chocolate fudge creme. And they make a wide variety of other sweet snack foods, including a classic Canadian chocolate covered treat:


Whippet cookies are produced in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They consist of a biscuit base topped with marshmallow-like filling and then coated in a hard shell of pure chocolate. Whippet cookies first came to the market in 1927, although they had been produced and distributed by Viau under the name “Empire” as early as 1901. Today, the cookies are still produced in Montreal at the east end of the Viau factory, which is now owned by Dare Foods. They are currently available with both dark chocolate and milk chocolate coatings, and with several flavors of artificial fruit jam filling inside the marshmallow-like filling.

The cookies are similar to Mallomars of New York City…

The Whippet cookie is a distinct part of Quebec culture because it does not travel well outside its area of production. This is partly because the pure chocolate melts very easily (compared with a chocolate mixture) and therefore they require refrigerated transport in summer. Furthermore, the combination of the hard chocolate shell and the air-filled inner marshmallow make them self-destruct when placed in the unpressurised or semi-pressurised cargo section of an airplane. However, they are currently available at various grocery locations throughout Canada and the US.

Spice mixes. There are many, many spice mixtures intended for savory (rather than sweet) foods, some of which I’ve looked at on this blog (cowboy rub, anyone? jerk spice?).

American ps is closely related to, but distinct from, British mixed spice (not a very informative name). From Wikipedia:

Mixed spice, also called pudding spice, is a British blend of sweet spices, similar to the pumpkin pie spice used in the United States. Cinnamon is the dominant flavour, with nutmeg and allspice [sometimes also cloves, ginger, coriander, or caraway]. It is often used in baking, or to complement fruits or other sweet foods.

The term “mixed spice” has been used for this blend of spices in cookbooks at least as far back as 1828 and probably much earlier.

Mixed spice is very similar to a Dutch spice mix called koekkruiden or speculaaskruiden, which are used mainly to spice food associated with the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration at December 5. Koekkruiden contain cardamom.

The formula for British mixed spice on the BBC Good Food site: 3 parts allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg; 2 parts mace; 1 part cloves, coriander, and ginger. It’s used especially for Christmas cake; British ex-pats in various parts of the world complain that it’s hard to find in shops outside the UK.

An Australian mixture marketed by the MasterFoods firm under the name mixed spice is almost all cinnamon:

(#3) 82% cinnamon, 9% allspice, 9% nutmeg (intended for cakes and biscuits / cookies)

(There are also several American “mixed spice” combinations on the market, intended for both sweet and savory uses.)

As a terminological distinction, I’d suggest the labels American sweet spice (inclined towards nutmeg) and British sweet spice (inclined towards cinnamon), with the acronymns AmSwSp and BrSwSp (pronounced /æmswɪsp/ and /brıswısp/, respectively).

What to do with sweet spice mixes. Three classes of uses:

in drinks: eggnog, rum punch

in sweet fillings and frostings: creme (sandwich) cookies, chocolate truffles, cake frosting

in baked stuff: cakes, sweet breads, cookies / biscuits

The flavor of sweet spice goes well with things that are creamy or sweet or both.

Canadian Whippets are a step in the direction of a transcendent candy, chocolate truffles filled with spiced ganache (‘a whipped filling of chocolate and cream’ (NOAD2)).

Subsectivity. Note that ps cream in the sandwich cookies / biscuits ordinarily has no cream in it whatsoever; the compound ps cream isn’t subsective, but resembloid: the filling in the sandwich cookies is merely cream-like, or creamy (cf. cream in the NYC egg cream, the UK salad cream, and the AmE cream soda, with resembloid N1 rather than N2; the first contains milk rather than cream, the other two have no dairy products at all).

The cream here is then this item from NOAD2:

noun cream [or creme or crème]: a substance or product with a thick, creamy consistency

For the purposes of law or merely truth in advertising, the cookie fillings and the like are often labeled creme or crème.

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