Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
These are the ingredients that add distinction and character to baked goods. Imagine how dull desserts would be without spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or extracts such as vanilla. The most important thing to remember about baking anything, is that the recipe's flavorings should only be used as a guide, and they can be substituted.
QUESTION: When should I add in extracts to a recipe?
SARAH SAYS: In baking recipes, where there is fat, such as butter, you can add in extracts at any time during the mixing process. But, when making cooked recipes, such as custard, I recommend stirring the extract in AFTER the recipe has been heated. That way, the flavor and any alcohol or volatile compounds will be more pronounced because they do not have time to evaporate during cooking.
ALCOHOL: Liqueurs, spirits and wines add flavor to many foods. Some may not have the exact flavoring or cannot have alcohol, so I have included a list of substitutes. HOW TO ALCOHOL BURN OFF CHART.
Liqueurs: a usually sweetened alcoholic liquor (as brandy) flavored with fruit, spices, nuts, herbs, or seeds; Any of various strongly flavored alcoholic beverages typically served in small quantities after dinner.
- Amaretto (am-ah-REHT-toh) - An Italian almond flavored liqueur (or cordial) that is made from apricot pits and flavored with almonds and aromatic extracts. History - It is named after the town of Saronno Italy. It has been produced commercially since the 19th century.
- Eau de vie (oh-deuh-VEE) - Translated from the French, eau-de-vie means "water of life." It is an alcohol distillate that is rich with taste, flavor, and aroma. The French use the expression "eau-de-vie" as a generic term for all brandies. It is unlikely, however, that you will hear Cognac and Armagnac ordered in this manner.
- Schnapps (shnahps) - Schnapps is a generic term for strong, colorless alcoholic beverage distilled from grains or potatoes and variously flavored. Peppermint schnapps is the most common, but other flavors include cinnamon, vanilla, root beer, blackberry, raspberry, peach, and mango.
AROMATIC: (1) A vegetable, herb, or spice used to enhance the flavor and fragrance of food and drinks. In classic cooking, a reference to "aromatics" most often means onions, carrot, and celery. (2) It also means spicy, pungent, or having a fragrant aroma.
CANDY OILS, FLAVORED: (See also Citrus Oils, also known as flavored oils.)
These are VERY strong flavors, not to be confused with flavored salad or oils, extracts or flavorings; you can tell you have the right one because they are labeled as such and come in small bottles and smell strong. Candy oils come in a wide range of flavors, such as orange, lime or lemon flavors, tangerine, cherry, etc.
NOTE: Nut flavored oils occur naturally in nuts and when pressed from them, it retains a true flavor. It is a specialty oil, generally used for its special flavors in cold dishes or added at the end to hot foods; substitute it when a recipe says vegetable oil. Do not use it as an extract in baking.
Candy oils are used in baking and cooking. I have done a lot of testing using the oils and always follow these guidelines I developed:
To use flavored candy oils in baking: if a recipe calls for 1 or 2 teaspoons lemon extract, you can use 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of lemon oil TOTAL, instead; do not double it. If the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon orange extract, use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon orange oil TOTAL. (Start with the smaller amount of 1/8 teaspoon. You can always add 1/8 teaspoon more, but do not go over 1/4 teaspoon total PER RECIPE because the flavors are intense!
I also use my candy oils for cooking. For example, I use a DROP of lemon oil to make lemon chicken or in mayonnaise or melted butter for dipping cooked artichoke leaves in. When mixing drinks, I often use a drop of lime oil instead of using fresh lime juice. The flavor you get from them is so wonderful!
CITRUS OILS: These are powerful natural essences cold pressed from citrus rinds and are dispersed in oil. (See also Candy Oils).
CITRUS JUICE, PEEL OR ZEST: Citrus Juice; Citrus Peel or Zest
CHOCOLATE AND COCOA POWDER
COFFEE: is made from the ground and roasted seeds of the coffee plant. It is used to flavor baking recipes usually with Instant Espresso Powder, the concentrated form of coffee.
History: It was grown, near the Red Sea, and controlled by the Arabs during the middle ages. Its introduction to Europeans, through the pilgrimages, led to the development of coffee growing in India, the East and West Indies, Central and South America. Coffee beans are roasted to varying darknesses and can have a wide array of flavors. Additives to the beans, such as vanilla or hazelnut are popular in America. Coffee can be drunk black, or sweetened with sugar or honey, and lightened with milk or cream.
- Cafe Brulot - A Creole classic strong coffee with brandy, citrus zest, and spices. (For a treat, try the Cafe Brulot Chiffon Pie Recipe).
- Cappuccino - Coffee made by topping espresso with the creamy foam from steamed milk. A small amount of the steamed milk is also added to the cup. The foam's surface is sometimes dusted with sweetened cocoa powder, nutmeg or cinnamon.
- Espresso - Served in very small cups, this is a dark, strong coffee made by forcing steam through finely ground, Italian-roast coffee.
- Irish coffee - A blend of strong black coffee, Irish Whiskey, a small amount of sugar, and topped with whipped or single cream.
- Kona coffee - From Kona on the big Island of Hawaii. It has a flavorful taste and ranges from dark to medium depending on the berries used.
- Latté, cafe au lait, cafe leche - Is a coffee made with milk, usually equal portions of scalded milk and coffee.
- Mocha - Espresso combined with hot chocolate and foamy steamed milk.
- Thai coffee - Is made from strong coffee that is poured over ice and then sweetened condensed milk is added.
- Turkish/Greek coffee - Very strong coffee made from thrice boiled water, finely ground coffee, and sugar (sometimes spices are added). Allow the grounds to settle in the cup prior to drinking.
EMULSIONS: Flavor Emulsions are used in a wide range of baking recipes, foods, carbonated soft drinks and dairy products. A typical flavor emulsion contains water, essential oils and emulsifiers and stabilizers such as gum arabic.
ESSENCES: are distilled with steam from fruits, spices and other plants, and used to enhance or intensify flavor in an abundance of foods. They are highly aromatic so usually you will need just a few drops. There are thousands of essences from almond to cinnamon to coconut.
EXTRACTS: are concentrated flavorings that come from different foods and plants, diluted with alcohol. Some are made by distilling fruits, seeds or leaves, anise, vanilla, peppermint and almond extracts. Pure extracts are preferable when baking (the taste is more vibrant). However, they can also be made artificially. Though different in flavor and price, the two are interchangeable in recipes. While the flavor of an extract is technically less potent than that of an essence, some commercial extracts are of similar strength to essences. To substitute an "essence" for an "extract", begin by adding two or three drops of an essence to one teaspoon of extract and add more if needed.
- Almond extract - A solution of oil, bitter almonds, and alcohol (approximately 1%) that is used for a flavoring in baking.
- Peppermint extract - because it is so strong, use only a small amount in your recipes.
- Vanilla extract
FLAVORED OILS: See Citrus Oils. Flavored oils come in a wide variety. Oil based ones should be used to flavor chocolate. Do not add to egg whites because the oil will deflate them; use extracts, instead.
FLAVORINGS: are not concentrated like an extract.
INSTANT ESPRESSO POWDER: Coffee compliments the flavor of chocolate. Instant espresso powder can be found in Italian delicatessens and many supermarkets. The most common brand is Medaglia d'Oro. It's a little hard to find, but I found a reliable mail order source. However, brands from major American companies are coming onto the market in reaction to the newfound love for "real" coffee. If you wish, you can substitute regular instant coffee, but it isn't nearly as intensely flavored.
ROSE WATER: Rose water (rosewater) is used in a wide variety recipes in Middle Eastern and Asian countries. It's used in desserts, and sometimes in baked goods such as some traditional Greek cookies. It's sometimes added to halva, and found as well in the confection known as Turkish Delight (or locum) with its starch and sugar coatings to keep the cubes from sticking together. Moroccans often flavor orange slices with rose water and cinnamon. Indian curries also may include rosewater as well. In North America it's often used to flavor drinks. Not many flavorings are used in so many different ways.
Rose water is often found in pharmacies, and sometimes in liquor or gourmet stores, or ethnic markets. You can also make your own. Store it in a cool place - it keeps for ages, though once opened, like most spices and flavorings, it gradually loses strength.
2 cups edible rose petals with the white ends snipped off (ends are bitter) - must be free of pesticides and cleaned.
2 cups water
Bring the water to a boil and pour over the petals. Cover and seal with plastic wrap to allow the essence of the petals to fuse with the water (about 45 minutes to an hour). Strain the mixture with a coffee filter colander or cheesecloth colander. Use the water to flavor ice tea or pour over fruit salads.
SEASONINGS: are ingredients added to food to intensify or improve its flavor. Some of the most commonly used seasonings include salt and pepper, herbs (such as oregano, rosemary and basil), spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice), condiments (such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and mustard), a variety of vinegars and the most common of all, salt and pepper.
VINEGARS: Vinegars are made from a variety of ingredients, including wine, beer, hard cider, and grain alcohol, and each type has its own characteristic flavor. Regardless of what it's made from, all vinegar is made by the same process--fermentation. Under the right conditions, specific bacteria convert the alcohol in wine, beer, or other alcoholic liquid into acetic acid. The best vinegars ferment naturally and are then aged in wooden casks to develop complex and intense flavors. Some producers bypass the slow fermentation process with heat and chemicals, and their vinegars are harsh and metallic tasting.
- The oldest and most common type of vinegar is wine vinegar. Richer in flavor than vinegar from grain or cider, it's valued for its fruity aromas and faintly nutty undertones.
- Red-wine, white-wine, and Champagne vinegars are the basic varieties. The best are made in the wine-making regions of the world. As with wine, the more robust, full-flavored red-wine vinegars are best added to heartier, more assertive foods, while the lighter, sharper white-wine and Champagne vinegars enhance fresher, more delicate flavors.
- Fruit and herb vinegars are simply wine vinegars infused with other ingredients, such as raspberries or tarragon. These are especially handy when the flavorings are unavailable in their fresh state.
- Sherry vinegar, made from sherry wine, has a sweeter, more complex flavor than ordinary wine vinegar. Sherry vinegars are aged for a minimum of six years in a solera, a network of oak barrels in which different vintages of vinegar are blended. The best sherry vinegars are aged longer, but claims of vintage on a sherry vinegar label can be misleading. The age is based not on a single vintage, but on an average one. The best sherry vinegars come from southern Spain and are sometimes labeled Xeres or Jerez--Spanish for sherry.
- Authentic balsamic vinegar is extremely rare (and expensive) and labeled aceto balsamico tradizionale--indicating that it was made in Italy by the traditional artisan method. Technically a white-wine vinegar, true balsamic vinegar becomes rich and dark through a long process that begins with fresh white wine that is cooked down to a thick, syrupy consistency and then fermented and aged in a succession of special wooden casks for a minimum of twelve years. Pungent, exotic, and slightly sweet, true balsamic vinegar should only be savored in its purest form, never heated or mixed with other
ingredients, but judiciously drizzled on food or sipped as you would a fine liqueur.
- Commercial balsamic vinegar is actually a red-wine vinegar fortified with concentrated grape juice and sometimes caramelized sugar that's intended to imitate true balsamic vinegar. While this widely available balsamic vinegar may not compare to the real thing, some brands are valued for their dark, slightly sweet, pungent characteristics. It's often added to slow-cooked foods, blended with oil and herbs for dressings, or used as a deglazing liquid for meat-based sauces.
- White balsamic vinegar is another loose interpretation of traditional balsamic. Producers add cooked-down grape juice to ordinary white-wine vinegar to give white balsamic its amber color and slightly sweet flavor.
- Cider vinegar is milder and sweeter than most wine vinegars. The best are unfiltered and unpasteurized. Good cider vinegar is slightly cloudy, like fresh cider, and has a fruity, apple flavor.
- Rice vinegar, also called rice-wine vinegar (although it's made from grain, not grapes), comes in three varieties--white, black, and red. White, with its pale, golden color and delicate flavor, is by far the most popular. Japanese rice vinegar is milder and sweeter than the Chinese, which tends to be more acidic and sharp. In either case, look for "pure" rice vinegar to avoid those that are seasoned or sweetened.
- Black rice vinegar (also called Chinese black vinegar) and red rice vinegar are white rice vinegar with sugar and spices added. Their stronger flavors make them less versatile than other vinegars.
- Malt vinegar is traditionally made from beer and is sometimes colored with caramel and infused with wood shavings. Its mild flavor makes it a popular choice for pickles and dressings.
- Distilled vinegar is commercially processed from grain alcohol. Most are quite pungent, unperfumed, and colorless, although some have coloring added to imitate wine vinegars. These vinegars are used widely in processed foods and preserves. As a cook, the best use I find for distilled vinegar is disinfecting my cutting boards. (from taunton.com)