Refresh Your Desserts With Almond Extract
Not so long ago, vanilla reigned in the land of aromas. It is found in cookies, cakes and foaming shower gel. It is written in volumes of copies on packages of chocolate pieces around the world and is widely known as a flavor balancer. Do you smell this? It’s not vanilla. I catch a hint of Change in the air. The almond extract has arrived and it’s time to shake things up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the soft vanilla scent, it’s very whimsical and no doubt ennobles other scents around it. But the vanilla extract is almost meant to fade into the background. The almond extract, however, is the star. The aroma is sweet and unexpectedly cherry. It has some malty, caramel notes, but none of the bitterness commonly associated with real almonds. I’m not suggesting eliminating vanilla entirely (maybe a little), but try replacing almond extract in some of your favorite recipes. If you’re hesitant, try adding plain vanilla with half a measure of almonds.
Almond extract pairs well with anything sweet (and maybe some savory, but I haven’t tried it yet). I never regretted adding it to the recipe, it only made me sad that I didn’t add more. Put ½ teaspoon in anything sweet or almost sweet. Every cookie recipe you love will be updated with a drop of this extract. Your Christmas cookies will suddenly have a “je ne sais quoi” that people will ask you about. As much as I’d like to exaggerate, I’m serious, but people will ask you what you added to your cookies this year. I substitute vanilla extract for almond extract in all cookie recipes that have nuts or seeds of any kind. Whether it’s pecan shortbread, walnut-dipped jam, or piñoli, the effect is as if I’d added a special concentrate of that particular nut.
Try adding it to muffins, puddings, meringues, icing, or pancakes. This is an incredible flavor that is present in any recipe that includes fruit, especially pies or fruit breads. It blew my mind the first time I mixed it with blueberry oatmeal and I have never looked back. Please note that if you are allergic to nuts, most almond extracts are made from almond oil. Depending on your allergies, this may or may not be safe for you. You know your body best. If you’re allergic to nuts, or you’re cooking for someone who is, try using a nut-free almond flavor . Then decide if you want to tell everyone about the wonders of almond extract or keep this tidbit as your new secret ingredient.