This week, we’ve been shining the spotlight on several new extracts we’ve added to our Baking ingredient section. In fact, we’d like to highlight our whole extract series, and talk about why they’re indispensible staples in your pantry.
Stars of the show. Most of the dishes we make, and recipes we bake, focus on a main ingredient or flavor (nuts, or lemons, or chocolate). But in some of those recipes, using a flavor extract is preferred to the actual ingredient itself. For example, chocolate extract might make a better-textured ice cream or beverage than the actual chunks or chips themselves. Extracts can also “bump up” the flavor of the main ingredient, as a dash of nut extract will help underscore the subtle flavor of chopped nuts in the banana bread or sweet rolls.
Supporting roles. In other instances, you want to have just a hint of a flavor (rum, or coconut, or vanilla) to underscore the main focus of the dish, so you’ll use a small spoonful (sometimes as little as a 1/2 tsp or less) of a concentrated extract to enhance the flavor of your dish. Putting a little Vanilla Extract into a batch chocolate chip cookies is a perfect example of this.
So, what are extracts, anyway? Extracts are made by mixing a concentrated flavor with alcohol – literally extracting the flavor of the source ingredient and putting it in a liquid base. Most of the alcohol burns off or evaporates during cooking or baking, leaving behind only the desired, concentrated flavor in your cooking.
Drop it like it’s hot. Extracts lose some of their potency when used in high heat applications like boiling, frying or sauteeing on the stovetop, and their alcohol bases can evaporate easily when exposed to high heat or prolonged cooking. Flavor extracts are recommended for use in recipes for baked goods, candy and ice cream, beverages, dressings, sauces, frostings, and other low-heat (or brief moderate heat) applications.
Which are the must-have extracts? We like keeping at least a small bottle of all of our extracts around (just in case). But if space was limited, or if you wanted to stock a basic pantry, or for a thoughtful gift, we recommend you try this “starter set” of our three most popular extracts: The Extract-ly What You Need gift box.
The Extract-ly What You Need gift box is just that: a trio of much needed extracts. Bourbon Island Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, and Lemon Extract. These are our most popular, best-selling extracts, and, while we’re thinking about it, are probably the most commonly used extracts in the kitchen.
- Lemon Extract: Lemon extract is a natural with fish, pork and chicken, and it marries well with a variety of herbs. Add 1/8 tsp of lemon extract anywhere you want rich lemon flavor. For dessert, lemon extract is used in cakes, muffins, frostings, and pies. Add lemon extract to classic pound cakes, cookies, lemon chiffon cake, cheesecake, custards, or lemon meringue pie. 1 tsp Lemon Extract = 1 tsp freshly-grated lemon peel.
- Almond Extract: Use our pure almond extract to add the nutty flavor of almonds to baked goods such as pies and pastries. Add almond extract to candies, cookies, frosting and pastry filling. Almond extract is also traditionally included in many Middle Eastern meat stews, in Indian sweet rice pudding, and in mild curries.
- Bourbon Island Vanilla Extract: The best-selling of all our extracts (and one of the biggest-selling ingredients in the whole store), Vanilla is derived from the fruits of the Vanilla orchid, a native plant of Mexico. Our Bourbon Island Vanilla Extract has a creamy, sweet, velvety flavor that is perfectly suited for a range of foods from baked goods to ice creams, salad dressings to barbeque sauces. Use vanilla to enhance the flavor of chocolate, custards, and caramel recipes, as well as coffee, and sweet cakes.
The Extract-ly What You Need extracts set ($18) comes packed in a neat box and makes a great gift.