Using Liqueur and Alcohol to Flavor Baking Instead of Extracts
One of the lessons that I have learned, is that you can get much more depth of flavor in a recipe by using a liqueur instead of an extract for flavor.
Flavoring baked goods with liqueur
In the last several years, I have become an avid baker, primarily of gourmet biscotti, but also of cookies and cakes. One of the lessons that I have learned by trial and error, and a lot of experimental substitution in my recipes, is that you can get much more depth of flavor in a recipe by using a liqueur instead of an extract for flavor.
This is especially true if you are used to using the imitation extracts. Yes, I know that imitation extracts are cheaper, but the flavor you get from them is so vastly inferior to the real extract and liqueurs, that I urge you to use them up, and replace them right away with the real thing. First of all, everything you bake will taste much better. Second of all, you will use less. And third of all, you will not be eating chemicals and fake flavoring, you will be using natural ingredients.
Good spices, herbs, and extracts are expensive in general, but if you can figure out which flavors you use most often, you can narrow down your list of which flavor additives you buy to about 10 or 15, and then just buy the best. You will love the difference in your cooking and baking.
Using liqueur instead of extracts
Many gourmet baking recipes call for various flavored extracts to enhance the flavor of your cookie, cake, and biscotti recipes. There is nothing wrong with extracts, and I do use them, especially vanilla extract (more about that later), but I have learned that most recipes taste better, richer, and have more depth of flavor if you replace the extract with a similar flavored liqueur.
The common extracts that are called for in baking are almond extract, orange extract, coffee extract or coffee, hazelnut extract, and vanilla extract. These flavors are used in numerous recipes in baking, and also in some recipes for cooking. However, most of them can be replaced by liqueurs with similar or the same flavor. The only one that I do not substitute with liqueur is the vanilla extract.
- Almond extract replace with Amaretto
- Orange extract replace with Grand Marnier
- Coffee extract replace with Kahlua
- Hazelnut extract replace with Frangelico
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Substituting liqueur for extract
Liqueur can be substituted for extract evenly amount for amount, but you may find that you can use less liqueur than extract. If you are worried about the alcohol content, then you can relax, because the alcohol content is burned away when baking or cooking, and you are just left with the flavor of the liqueur.
You can also blend the flavors of the liquors with vanilla extract or with each other if you are baking a cookie or cake with both flavors such as a orange cookie with almonds. Another trick is using Amaretto with any cookie recipe that has nuts, not just with almond.
My personal favorite liqueur to add to recipes is Frangelico, which is a hazelnut flavored liqueur. Frangelico makes a wonderful flavor addition to any nut flavored cookie or cake, or any chocolate cake or cookie with nuts. Frangelico also tastes wonderful in combination with vanilla extract or instead of vanilla extract.
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Using vanilla extract in baking
In ten years of experimenting, I have never found another substitute that tastes as good as real vanilla extract to replace vanilla extract. I never use imitation vanilla extract anymore, and I often buy the concentrated forms of vanilla extract to add more intense and rich flavor to baking. I also will buy vanilla beans, and grind them up into my baking to increase the vanilla flavor. (It is hard to add too much vanilla to baking, as far as I am concerned.)
The one thing you do need to watch when substituting or adding liquid extracts to baking recipes, is to watch the amount of liquid you add altogether so as not to change the consistency of your dough. You can find real vanilla extract at most grocery stores, gourmet food stores, and organic food stores, and you can also find it on Amazon.
Natural Vanilla Extract
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Adding dried fruit to baking with vodka
Another way of adding flavor to baking is a trick that I learned to use with dried fruit. If you have a cookie, cake or biscotti recipe that you are adding dried fruit to, then before you add the dried fruit, soak the dried fruit in just enough vodka to cover the dried fruit. You only have to soak it for about 30 minutes, and the dried fruit with soak up some of the vodka, which will make the fruit flavor more intense in the finished bakery item. I have used this trick with dried berries of different types, dried apples, and dried mango, and it has worked with with all of them.
Again the alcohol content cooks away, just leaving you with the added intensity to the fruit flavor in your baking.