In most contexts, cinnamon chips are small, cinnamon-flavored morsels used predominantly in baking. They resemble chocolate chips and are designed to be used in many of the same contexts as the chocolate versions would be. The term “cinnamon chip” can also refer to a buttery, cinnamon-dusted or flavored tortilla chip, though this use is less common.
Cooks typically add cinnamon chips to a variety of baked goods to impart a cinnamon flavor, as well as add a sweetness not found in ordinary powdered or ground cinnamon. Most cinnamon chips look just like chocolate chips — they are typically quite small and take the shape of dropped pyramids. Shoppers can typically find chips on the same grocery store shelf as chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and other baking morsels.
Cinnamon chips are typically made of oils and natural waxes that have been augmented with cinnamon flavoring. Depending on the brand, that flavoring can be wholly or partly artificial. Some chips contain real cinnamon, but most do not.
One of the characteristics of cinnamon chips is their ability to quickly melt, either over a double broiler or in the oven. In baked goods, this often lends pockets of cinnamon flavor. Baking with cinnamon chips is generally very easy. A wide variety of cinnamon desserts, including cinnamon cakes and cinnamon cookies, get their flavor from chips that have been added directly into the dough.
Adding chips to biscuits, scones, and bread can make for interesting twists on traditional breakfast favorites. Creative cooks might also add cinnamon chips to pancakes for a sweet morning treat or use the chips as ice cream toppings. Melted down, the chips can make a rich cinnamon-flavored syrup that can be added to fruit or yogurt or used as a dip.
The term “cinnamon chip” can also refer to a more traditional tortilla chip that carries a cinnamon flavor. Cinnamon chips of this variety are largely homemade, usually from fresh tortillas. The tortillas can be either freshly made or purchased, then sprinkled with butter, cinnamon powder or cinnamon grounds, and sugar. Cooks will then either bake the tortillas, skillet-fry them, or deep fry them until they are crispy.
Chips in this style are usually cut into wedges or strips, then topped with fruit or sweet salsa. The flavor and taste of these chips is often reminiscent of churros, a popular Spanish and Latin American pastry. Most churros are made of thick dough, however, and are almost always deep fried. Cinnamon chips made from tortillas impart a similar flavor, but are usually a much healthier alternative.