The oval, brown seed of a soft fruit, nutmeg has a warm, sweet, spicy flavor. Inside the fruit, the nutmeg seed is enclosed in a lacy red cage that, when lifted away and ground, is known as the spice mace. In small amounts, nutmeg acts as a subtle flavor booster in savory dishes, but it is most frequently used to flavor sweet treats, including custards, cakes and cookies. Whole nutmeg keeps its flavor much longer than ground nutmeg. Always grate nutmeg just before using. Use the finest rasps on a box grater, or a specialized nutmeg grater.
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