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Mar 25, 2007 03:18 PM

Grand Marnier vs. Cointreau in recipe; does it matter?

My recipe for orange roasted capon calls for orange-flavored cognac. I have both Grand Marnier and Cointreau. Is one better suited for recipe over the other? Thanks!

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  1. Grand Marnier uses Cognac as its base, so it could be described as orange-flavored cognac. Cointreau uses some neutral spirits as the base. Think orange-flavored sweetened vodka. The tastes differ.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Eldon Kreider

      Eldon thanks so much for the recommendation. I did use the Grand Marnier in the sauce and it was magnificent! Thanks again!

    2. You can use them interchangeably. In a pinch, or when I didn't feel like spending the money on a whole bottle of the finer stuff just to use a tablespoon or two, I have even used Triple Sec.

      I was excited last night when I needed a bit of orange liquer for Bananas Foster and my liquor store had an airplane bottle of Grand Marnier!

      1. I find Grand Marnier has a richer sweeter flavor, while Cointreau is dryer, somewhat astringent, with a stronger orange nose to it. It's like biting into a sweet juicy orange segment versus biting into the skin of the same orange.

        Both would probably work depending on what affect you're looking for, but capon might seem more luscious if Grand Marnier is used, since the roasting or flaming will burn off most of the alcohol, but I would think that there would be residual sugars in the Grand Marnier - I don't sense that in Cointreux.

        1. There was an interesting article in the NYTimes this week about a similar issue with respect to cooking with wine. The conclusion was it really wasn't worth using the fancy stuff for anything that involved extended exposure to heat, as the subtleties wouldn't make it through the cooking process. So my guess is that it probably wouldn't make much difference which you use.

          (I'm including a link to the Times article, but since their site requires logging in, I don't know that it'll work.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: chloe103

            That's a great point... so I guess if you're going to cook the alcohol out of it, whether through intense heat, or a long cooking process, then it's not so noticeable... but I would think that the flavor of the cognac would still be very noticeable...

            One thing I don't skimp on when it comes to Grand Marnier is when I want to macerate fresh strawberries. I toss the strawberries with a healthy dose of GM along with a sprinkling of sugar and one can definitely taste the GM, as it hasn't been cooked off at all! These are then placed in, around, and on a freshly baked shortcake that has been spread with lemon or key lime curd inside, then served with a dollop of creme freche or devon double cream...

          2. I use alcohol in pretty much everything that I cook. I have heard Alton Brown say something to the effect of certain flavors requiring alcohol to fully release there um… flavor. Meaning that some chemicals in food that provide taste are only soluble in alcohol. I cant speak directly to this point but I have used neutral spirits (read vodka) to great effect in a few recalcitrant dishes. Beyond the normal wine and beer (mainly for legumes) which I have found little net difference between, I use sherry, port, Madera, vermouth, Herbsaint, and Pernod a fair bit. Maybe it is that these beverages are more concentrated in their flavor but the character they lend to dishes ranges much more widely by brand than does wine or beer. I don’t doubt that you could get a great flavor out of triple sec or even curacao but they would probably provide a different note than you would get from Grand Marnier or Cointreau. I doubt any of the flavors would be bad or a hindrance to the dish but the difference would likely be greater than if you used a great table wine versus an average jug wine in a red sauce.