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New Pick Up Line for Bakers

by on September 28, 2011 · 44 comments

Would you like to come upstairs and see my extracts?


I don’t know why I took this picture other than the fact I was bored and playing with my new lens. That and I’ve been thinking a lot about extracts. What’s up with our love for vanilla?  Who uses chocolate extract and in what?  When you go to the grocery store, do you cruise down the baking aisle just to see if they added any new flavors? It was a pretty big deal when McCormick’s raspberry extract came out, but then there was a dry spell and my grocery store had the same old flavors – – vanilla, mint, and almond. At some point, the store branched out and now we have banana, strawberry and even a couple of new flavors from Watkins including cherry and root beer. Did I mention that my grocery store was a gourmet hybrid?

Anyway, I’ve made a vow to try different extracts this holiday season and will let you know how it goes. This is largely based on the success I had today with Watkins Cherry Extract in a chocolate cake. I’ll report on that after later. That is, after we eat it and get the full cherry chocolate experience.

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Published on September 28, 2011

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue September 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Hahaha! You’d know you met a fellow baking nerd that’s for sure. You’ve got me beat btw. I only have two kinds of vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, anise, almond, raspberry, and peppermint extracts. Maybe maple and lemon? At least that’s what I can think of off the top of my head.
I’m glad you’re having fun with the new lens!

corinne September 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I’ve been trying to find chocolate extract, and it just doesn’t seem to exist in DC. Will have to resort to the internet eventually… Other than vanilla, I’ve probably only used orange? I got a jar of butter flavor recently that’ll have to go in something…

Krista September 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm

So what do you use chocolate extract for?!

Adam September 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Sadly, I only have Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla powder and Almond extract. The reason is that I typically don’t use more than that. Okay that’s a lie it probably has more to do with the fact that my grocery store doesn’t carry a lot of non artificial extracts, but I like to tell myself the first excuse.

And that’s a very impressive collection :).

T. Martin September 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I got carded at Trader Joe’s last week when buying vanilla extract because it says ‘bourbon’ on the bottle.

Anna September 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Sue, that’s a pretty impressive collection you have. Yes, mine is a little better, but yours is respectable ;).

Taneka, I forgot to answer your question about that last week. The answer is no, I have never ever been carded for trying to buy vanilla extract. That must be a new New York thing. Weird.

Adam, if I discover any new extracts worth buying, I’ll let you know.

Krista, I saw some recipe on the back of Adam’s almond extract for chocolate brownies with almond extract and chocolate extract. It must add some interesting back notes of flavor. I’m going to pick up a bottle next time I see it. I imagine it smells like chocolate gum or those old Chocolate Now and Laters. Blech.

Corinne, I may end up ordering it too. However, I think Adam’s (a company located not too far from Austin) puts out a chocolate.

Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat September 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm

HAHA can’t wait to see what you do with the crazy extracts!

CindyD September 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Okay, I’m adding extracts to my wish list, especially Mexican vanilla. I think I only have vanilla and almond at the moment, maybe mint.
Next photo should be whatever exotic spices you have, like Vietnamese cinnamon!!

Adam September 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I have my own line of extracts? Who knew :)

Rina September 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Great topic! I have used vanilla, mexican vanilla, coconut, and peppermint – all have been great thus far (especially for flavoring frostings and fillings without adding a new textural dimension).

Karen September 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm

My husband used to hand dip chocolates at Christmas, so he went a little crazy with extracts. We have vanilla, Bourbon vanilla, Mexican vanilla, rum, butter, maple, root beer, orange, almond, lemon, coconut, peppermint, butterscotch, and cinnamon.

Darlene September 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm

When we lived in San Diego I bought a large bottle of Mexican Vanilla extract, but later threw it away after reading an article in a medical journal stating that the extract commonly contains coumarin (which comes from the Brazilian tonka bean that can be used to make a flavor similar to vanilla). Even if it says “coumarin free,” I’m hesitant to ever purchase it again (especially because I’m a retired pharmacist and know the problems this could cause).

Anna September 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Adam, you need a bunch of bottles of Adam’s extract for your pantry.
Also, Mike Judge’s movie was based on Adam’s.
For years, their building was located on I-35 right on the edge of Austin, so if you spent any time going up and down I-35, the old Adams building was kind of a landmark.

Cindy, my spice collection kind of a mess right now, but I like the idea of sharing spice collection photos.

Rina, what brand of coconut extract do you like? The one’s I’ve tried have all tasted like sun tan lotion.

Jenn September 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I don’t comment too often, but greatly enjoy reading your blog and thought I would comment on this post, being as I’m known for having tons of crazy extracts/flavorings (17 different flavors! – most of which, unfortunately, also sit in my spice cabinet unused). But a while back, I had the same thoughts and really wanted to try out all of them, so what I did was baked up a batch of just plain, vanilla mini cupcakes and made a basic buttercream (butter, powdered sugar, milk) and used all of my extracts to flavor each frosting differently for each cupcake. It turned out to be a really fun experiment and gave me a chance to try out the extracts and flavorings I had but hadn’t used or rarely used. Just a suggestion for you. :)

heartofglass21 September 29, 2011 at 7:03 am

This is kind of a silly question, but what exactly ‘are’ extracts? I’ve only used vanilla for the most part, and shy away from some of the fancier ones, because they often have HFC as an ingredient where I shop or are very expensive.

Anna September 29, 2011 at 7:13 am

Jenn, thanks for the suggestion. I like the idea of that or just doing a bunch of plain frosting, adding flavors, and putting it on sugar cookies.

Louise September 29, 2011 at 7:42 am

I think I may have you beat. I’ll have to take a couple of photos and send them to you. First I’ll have to put them all in one place, as some are in the refrigerator.

Pam September 29, 2011 at 7:48 am

I just picked up LorAnn’s Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion!
I haven’t tried it yet but was immediately intrigued when I saw it.

I also could not live without Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste. I buy the big 32 oz bottle because it is a much better value. It makes vanilla so good.

Lisa Ernst September 29, 2011 at 8:14 am

I’ve tried a number of extracts from King Arthur Flour, including chocolate. Supposedly it heightens the chocolate flavor in chocolate based desserts. I couldn’t really notice a difference. I’ve found that adding a little coffee works better. (Ina Garten’s favorite trick.) For a while I used the McCormick’s raspberry extract to flavor my milk (or soy milk) with cereal. It was kind of fun, but then I forgot about it, or just ran out and didn’t buy more.

Erin September 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

I haven’t used too many different extracts. I think the only others I have are butter and almond. Oh wait I have maple too. I should play with them more! And I love your new pickup line.

AmyM September 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

Anna – Have you ever tried making your own extracts? Alton Brown has a recipe for coconut extract online that I tried once, and it made great coconut pound cake. Actually, calling it a “recipe” may be a little generous, as it is just fresh coconut soaked in vodka. This is the same basic process for make-your-own vanilla extract, which I love. It is both cheaper and tastes great (in my opinion).

AmyM September 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

Wait, I should qualify my comment about making extracts being cheaper. I have found buying vanilla beans in bulk online to be significantly cheaper than buying them in the store. I use most of them for extract. I actually haven’t done a ounce-for-ounce comparison of home made vs. store bought extract. But I still like it. :-)

Katrina September 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

Great photo–that’s probably about how many I have. My pick up line would probably be “would you like to come up and see my sprinkles.” I have every kind of those, it seems. That and I have quite the cupcake liner collection–and don’t even make cupcakes that often, but when I see cute new ones, I “need” them. ;)
I bought Mapleline and Anise the last time you posted something about them and still need to use them. Maybe that’ll be my goal with 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies having started today.

Gloria September 29, 2011 at 11:54 am

I’ve got a short pick up line compared to some of you extract “hoarders”! vanilla, maple, strawberry, banana, orange, almond.. banana being the newest member of the family. Chocolate extract seems weird to me. My pick up line to my now husband was “do you want to go swing some clubs” (golf)….

Adam September 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

@Anna — I have never seen nor heard of that movie, though I love Mike Judge and I’m intrigued by the plot :). Stupid Netflix Canada doesn’t have it, gonna have to do some work for this one I think :). (Is it worth the work?)

Anna September 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Adam, that’s a tough question. If you’re a Mike Judge fan, it’s probably worth the work.

Erin, let me know how the pick-up line works.

Lisa, King Arthur has lots of interesting flavorings on their website and one of these days I’m going to give in and order some. Right now I stick to what I can find at the grocery store. A big part of the reason is that when a friend or neighbor asks for a recipe, I like to be able to tell them I picked up an ingredient at The H.E.B. rather than say “Oh, I had to order this on-line via so and so specialty retailer. That being said, for a bake sale or an event where I just want to serve something interesting, it would probably be worth it to order some unique flavorings on-line.

Amy, that coconut and vodka mixture sounds great! I have made my own vanilla extract and wasn’t very impressed with it, but I’d be game for trying the coconut version.

Pam, I love vanilla bean paste too. I think you’re leaning toward molecular gastronomy baking with that red velvet bakery emulsion! Cool.

Mary, I know you know what “extract” means, so I guess the real question you are asking is what’s the difference between an extract and a flavoring? According to the Watkins website, an extract is made from natural ingredients (for instance, a vanilla bean) while a flavoring is made from artificial ingredients.

Renee September 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

It would be interesting to try different extracts and taste the results. I have used vanilla, clear vanilla, rum, butter rum, almond and coconut extracts. All in cakes, I think.

Yvonne September 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hey, baby, what’s your extract? Mine’s coconut!
The craziest one I have used lately is coconut extact in my Midori bundt cake recipe. I have a small box of strange extracts that I got while visiting King Arthur Flour’s store over the years…. Cherry, maple, chocolate, peppermint, hazelenut, eggnog, coffee, butterrum, peanut butter, pumpkin…. What was I thinking?

Erin September 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I love extracts!

heartofglass21 September 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

@Anna–yes, that is what I meant! I have seen cheaper ‘extracts’ with artificial ingredients, however, so I suppose the official definition isn’t regulated very carefully.

Jennifer J-W September 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I love buying extracts, but apparently I’m not so good at using them. I can picture unopened bottles of rum, mint and maple in my cupboard right now. Like Katrina, I’ll have to have a goal to try them in my holiday baking.

Oh, and a couple of people mentioned clear vanilla. I have a bottle of clear Mexican vanilla but to me it tastes like coconut. I actually have taken to only using it when I am baking something with coconut in it, as the coconut-i-ness is so strong. Has anyone else had that experience?

Meredith @ The Little Bee September 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes out of their way to peruse the baking isle at the grocery stores (even Wal-Mart has some pretty awesome stuff lately!). Thank you for the extract post! It reminds me to pay more attention to the extracts……on a similar note I’d kill to find whole vanilla beans at a decent price; $10 per bean is insane especially if I can’t bake with it more than once :o(

Kesha September 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I have vanilla, vanilla bean paste, natural rum, lemon orange and lime oils, tangerine extract, raspberry, key lime, grand marnier, allspice, amaretto, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, chocolate, butter rum, banana, organic butter, princess cake and cookie, coconut, buttery sweet dough, fiori di sicilia, almond, and homemade vanilla extract brewing until January. I used the chocolate extract in a cookies and cream buttercream and it tasted pretty good but to be honest, I couldn’t tell if it was the extract or the oreos…. :)

Kesha September 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I also have caramel….most of my extracts came from and king arthur flour. Olive nation sells natural extracts.

Lisa Huff @ Snappy Gourmet September 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Well after I found my root beer extract/flavoring this summer I thought I was set for awhile, but next thing I knew I was buying strawberry, hazelnut, etc. You can never have too many extract flavorings!

Sue September 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Oh! I forgot about the fiori di sicilia in my cupboard, which I’ve never used. Is that an extract or flavoring? I’m thinking flavoring.
It’s been fun reading what we all have in our cupboards! Good post Anna!

Barbara September 30, 2011 at 6:46 am

OK, I give up. What would I use chocolate extract for?
I love your collection….you need an entire shelf just for those!

Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie September 30, 2011 at 7:22 am

Wow, that is some collection!

Katrina September 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

So I was just in the baking aisle. Okay, so whenever I go to the store, I have to go down the baking aisle. It just doesn’t feel right if I don’t. Anyway, I checked out the extracts and such. They had a big (bigger than they’ve had before) selection of Watkins extracts. And I bought the chocolate one after all the talk about it. I’m curious. I wasn’t going to until the recipe on the back was for brownies. Now I have to try the recipe. I also got some root beer concentrate, I’ve been meaning to get some. But did you know or have you seen that Watkins also has a peanut butter extract and a caramel extract. I thought those sounded more strange than chocolate. Just thought I’d share. I’ll let you know when I try the brownies.

Cindy October 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I have the same problem as Jennifer J W – I recently bought some Totonac’s Mexican Vanilla, it is clear, and it tastes and smells like coconut. The consistency is even a little oily for and extract? I bought a 32 oz bottle and it was only like $7.99 – I think I’ve been “had”!!

Adam October 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm

@Cindy — yeah that’s definitely not Mexican vanilla. My parents brought some for me straight from Mexico (1L cost 10 bucks — coumarin free) from a reputable dealer (Los Cinco Soles — you can order it from their site). It’s dark like domestic vanilla, but is much more fragrant and flavourful. It has a very floral, rich and creamy (?) scent, that comes out a lot when I use it in cookies and cakes. It’s fantastic. The first thing I made with it was biscotti and I was blown away by the difference :).

Cindy October 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Adam – I bought my so called vanilla in Cozumel, but it was the first store when I got off the Cruise Ship! I even went in Los Cinco Soles, dang it! What brand is your vanilla if you don’t mind me asking?

Adam October 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm

It’s actually Los Cinco Sole’s own brand:

Louise October 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Have you ever tried Rawleigh Double Vanilla Extract? I never heard of it until today, but a woman at the fitness center told me it’s a very old brand and once I try it, I won’t use anything else. ;-) She happens to sell it for her church.

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