Upgrade Your Baked Goods With Almond Extract

Upgrade Your Baked Goods With Almond Extract

There was a time not long ago that vanilla reigned over the land of aromas. It’s in cookies, cakes, and foaming body wash. It’s written into the tomes of copy on chocolate morsel packages across the globe, and widely accepted as a balancer of flavours. Do you smell that? It’s not vanilla. I detect a hint of Change in the air. Almond extract has arrived, and it’s time to shake things up.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the mellow scent of vanilla, it’s very quaint, and it does, without a doubt, elevate the other flavours around it. But vanilla extract is almost designed to fade into the background. Almond extract, however, is a star. The perfume is sweet and unexpectedly cherry-like. There’s a bit of a malty, caramel note to it, but none of the bitterness you’d normally associate with actual almonds. I’m not suggesting we entirely eliminate vanilla (maybe a little), but try substituting almond extract in some of your favourite recipes. If you’re on the fence, try adding the usual vanilla with a half measure of almond.

Almond extract pairs well with everything sweet (and probably some savoury, but I haven’t tried that out yet). I’ve never regretted adding it to a recipe, I’ve only been frustrated that I didn’t add a touch more. Put a ½ teaspoon in everything sweet or borderline sweet. Every cookie recipe you love will be renewed with a splash of this extract. Your Christmas cookies will suddenly have a “je ne sais quoi” that people will ask you about. As much as I like to exaggerate — I mean it, people will ask you what you put in your cookies this year. I swap out almond extract for the vanilla measurement in all cookie recipes that have any sort of nut or seed in them. Whether it’s pecan shortbread, jam thumbprints rolled in walnuts, or pignoli cookies, the effect is as if I added a special concentrate of that particular nut.

Try adding it to muffins, puddings, meringues, icings, or pancakes. It’s an incredible aroma to have woven throughout any recipe that includes fruit, especially pies or fruit-studded breads. It blew my mind the first time I stirred it into my blueberry overnight oats, and I never looked back. Note that if you have nut allergies, most almond extracts are made from almond oil. Depending on your allergy, this may or may not be safe for you. You know your body best. If you have nut allergies, or you’re cooking for someone who has them, try using a nut-free almond flavoring. Then decide if you want to tell everyone about the wonders of almond extract, or keep this tidbit as your new secret ingredient.

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