Why Do You Add Vanilla Extract Last When Baking?

If you’ve ever baked a cake or cookies, you have probably used vanilla extract. This ingredient is used in almost every recipe for baked goods because of the fabulous taste it adds. Vanilla extract is always added to desserts because it chemically adds more flavor, and it also brings out the flavors of other ingredients in the mixture.

Vanilla extract is an alcohol-based liquid that contains vanillin, which is the compound found in vanilla beans which gives them their distinct flavor. Vanilla is a brown-colored liquid, and it comes in many brands and in different levels of purity depending on how much alcohol and vanilla bean quantities it contains.

What kind of purity is best for baking depends on personal tastes. Some chefs prefer stronger tasting vanilla and choose a higher purity level. Others may prefer the vanilla taste be toned down and choose a less strong variety.

Why Is Vanilla Added Last

This is a question I always had as a kid when watching my mom baking sweets—but she could never tell me why. She just said that was how her mother did it. When she made custard pies in the double-boiler on the stove, she always put the vanilla in last.

When I discovered my love of cooking as an adult, this question arose again. Every time I baked, I noticed that vanilla was the last ingredient to be added. For years I wondered about this question, but because the internet wasn’t as easy to access at that time in my life I couldn’t find the answer. Years later, I remembered my question and set out to find the answer, which I will now share with you.

So why do you add vanilla last? The answer is pretty simple, and I feel silly I didn’t think of it without doing any research. Vanilla is like alcohol, and it evaporates and cooks down when heated.

When you heat something like custard for pie, you add the vanilla last because the vanilla will evaporate and the taste will not be as strong, or it could completely disappear if you add it too early. If you are mixing up a cold mixture like cookie dough, it is still best to add the vanilla last to prevent the taste from evaporating.

The type of vanilla you use can be very important because of the fact it evaporates. If you are cooking something that will become very hot, around 300 degrees, the vanilla flavor will decrease.

Imitation vanilla flavor is better for things like cookies, which get hotter in the oven. Imitation vanilla is made so that it doesn’t bake off as quickly at high heats. For cakes, pure vanilla, which internally has a much lower baking temperature than cookies, gives off a stronger vanilla flavor, so pure vanilla flavoring would be a better option.

It is more alcohol-based and will evaporate at high temperatures, but in cakes, the risk of the vanilla taste disappearing is less than with other baked goods.

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Which kind you choose is up to your own personal tastes though. I personally can’t stand imitation vanilla and always use pure vanilla in all my desserts. You just have to experiment to figure out which taste you prefer.

You can easily buy vanilla at the grocery store, but some cooks love to make their own. Here is a recipe to make your own vanilla extract. It’s very simple. You add vanilla beans to vodka or another type of alcohol and let is sit for 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 weeks, you should have your own home made vanilla.

Some chefs experiment with flavors by using bourbon, whiskey, and other types of alcohol for slightly different tastes. I did this one year and gave away small bottles of home made vanilla to people as gifts for the holidays. They were a huge hit, and I had plenty left over for making delicious holiday cookies.

There are many unofficial ‘rules’ in baking. Like the fact that vanilla extract belongs in every single recipe. That little brown bottle adds complexity and helps the sugar taste more caramelly-sweet and the butter taste richer. Or does it?

Recently, I noticed that The New York Times’ Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe doesn’t include vanilla extract. Moreover, neither do my two favorite cookies: a treasured family shortbread recipe and a Coconut Oat Cookie from a recent edition of Food Network Magazine.

Neither falls short in flavor or texture. All of these observations got me wondering whether or not vanilla extract is necessary in baking. It’s expensive, and considering the frequency it’s used in recipes, those numbers add up. In this story, I methodically examine whether vanilla extract should be a cornerstone of every recipe or saved for recipes where vanilla is meant to be the star.

A little bit about my process. I combed through Food Network’s recipe library in search of three classic candidates to bake side-by-side with and without vanilla extract. I excluded cookies with very bold flavors (like dark chocolate Brownie Cookies, pictured above), as well as recipes that are specifically called vanilla cookies (their identity is centered around vanilla, after all).

I settled on classic roll out Sugar Cookies, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Then I called up my colleague to help out with the baking and tasting, and here is what we found.

With a freezer full of extra dough, we called an end to the brief but delicious experiment. Vanilla does offer more than just a bit of floral flavor. Sometimes it’s a flavor enhancer and sometimes it’s a flavor balancer.

But to be honest, unless it’s a vanilla cookie, it’s not a true dealbreaker. Especially if you’re making cookies that have lots of other flavors going on, like coconut or dark chocolate. Unsurprisingly, all the cookies were delicious, happily enjoyed and will be baked again regardless of how much vanilla is lurking in the cabinet.

What are some tips for making food taste better with vanilla?

In the beginning, I thought extracting the flavor from vanilla was a chemistry question. So I went to the source — The American Chemical Society — to find out more about it. In this story, I answer some common questions about extracting flavors from food and how you can use them in your recipes. Vanilla is just one of many foods that have a lot of flavor hiding inside. Find out what it takes to unlock that flavor to create something delicious in your kitchen.

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As our society progresses, we are seeing more and more people diagnosed with food allergies. One of the most common food allergies is to peanuts. There are currently more than 300,000 people with food allergy in the United States alone.

Food allergies are actually on the rise. The CDC is reporting that 1 out of every 13 children has a food allergy, an increase from 1 in every 25 kids just five years ago. This is not just affecting children either, even adults are being diagnosed with having a food allergy at an increasing rate.

If you have been diagnosed with a peanut allergy or have someone in your family that has one, avoiding this common ingredient in recipes can be almost impossible.

What happens if you don’t put vanilla extract in cake?

For my first test recipe, I wanted to figure out just how important vanilla is in cheesecake. Some cooks will tell you that there is no such thing as a cheesecake that doesn’t include vanilla.

I tasted a lot of cheesecakes before finally settling on The Ultimate Cheesecake Recipe. It looked like a good candidate for my experiment, but it would need some vanilla to be deemed perfect. So I added some vanilla extract and made sure it was stirred in at the baking stage.

To keep things as consistent as possible, I used two different sized pans: one for baked cheesecakes and one for baked brownies.

What can I use instead of vanilla extract when baking?

I thought I was an expert in cake baking with my previous ventures into baking delicious brownies and apple pies.

When I set out to make a cheesecake, though, I had no idea how complicated it would be.

I learned that the quality of a cheesecake depends on the quality of ingredients. And as far as ingredients go, it’s hard to beat cream cheese. It is the base ingredient for this recipe and gives this delicious baked treat its wonderful smooth consistency.

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For my experiment, I wanted to see if vanilla extract could improve or diminish the flavor if it was replaced by some other flavoring agents like cinnamon or chocolate.

Do you have to use vanilla extract in recipes?

It is hard to imagine how many recipes you see that call for vanilla extract. There are so many recipes out there that just call for vanilla.

To get the full flavor, you need a good recipe and a good chef. If you follow these recipes and re-create them at home with your own kitchen ingredients, you’ll see that these two things are necessary to make an amazing treat.

If your recipe calls for vanilla, don’t just take anything off the shelf to replace it. Take a little extra time and care in order to make sure you’re baking with the best possible ingredients and making the best possible recipe. The results will be worth it! These 70+ tips can help you bake more delicious treats at home.

Can I substitute honey for vanilla extract?

I thought maybe honey would make for a good replacement for vanilla extract in a recipe. It just seemed simple.

My first recipe that I tried without vanilla extract was Cake with Caramelized Pears and Honey. It was delicious, but the caramelized pear flavor was missing something.

As I continued on my quest to bake delicious desserts I learned that nothing is better than real vanilla to add a beautiful aroma and delicate flavor to baked goods.

Don’t get me wrong — whiskey has its place in baking, but you should never use candy corn or other artificial flavors as an extract substitute.

Do cookies taste good without vanilla extract?

If you love baking cookies, check out these 18 easy recipes for classic cookies and modern twists on them. Make sure you have the best vanilla and other baking ingredients on hand to make your cookies absolutely delicious!

If you want to know just how important vanilla is in cookie recipes, then this experiment will tell you all that you need to know. I tested two versions of chocolate chip cookies: one with vanilla extract and one without it.

Classic chocolate chip cookies are a favorite at Halloween parties as well as among families. The taste is an important part of the recipe. Without vanilla extract, these cookies would have a flat taste that doesn’t compete with other flavors in the batch.

I began my search for the best recipes to bake from scratch and I never expected to find my best recipe on food.com. I was more than happy to meet the challenge and bake good-tasting cheesecakes that people will love! These oven-baked cheesecakes are so easy that you can whip them up in no time at all!

If you love baking, then this salad dressing only takes a few minutes to make. You can make it even more flavorful by adding some chives or other garnish if you have it on hand. Or if cooking isn’t your thing, leave out the herbs completely.

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