Ingredients Series: Vanilla

Thanks for checking out my Ingredients Series. If you've missed any, you'll find the links to previous installments here: Flour, Sugar, Butter vs. Margarine, Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder. This post we'll be talking about vanilla - specifically vanilla extract. What is vanilla extract? Vanilla extract is essentially vanilla beans soaked in alcohol, to put it simply. Most vanilla beans come from Madagascar, however unless the bottle you buy specifically says 100% Madagascar vanilla, you most likely have a blend from different regions. Though vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in baking, it is actually one of the most expensive. Which leads us to imitation vanilla. What is imitation vanilla? Instead of soaking vanilla beans in alcohol, imitation vanilla gets its flavor from a compound found in vanilla beans called vanillin. You'll find that imitation vanilla is stronger and can hold up to baking quite well. Unlike my previous Ingredients Series posts (Flour, Sugar, Butter vs. Margarine, Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder), vanilla doesn't affect the structure or texture of baked goods . It is simply for flavor. And in my opinion, there is no issue using imitation vanilla as long as vanilla isn't the dominant flavor. What do I mean by that? If you're making vanilla ice cream, splurge on the legit vanilla extract. Or, even better, buy vanilla paste or vanilla beans! But if vanilla is just added to give a little depth and complexity to your recipe, imitation is fine by me. Have more questions about vanilla? E-mail me at or comment below. #vanilla #bake #baking #flavor #recipe #learning #education #bakingingredientblogseries

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