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Timing of addition of vanilla

I have a few recipes that specify adding vanilla at the very end (one cookie recipe even goes so far as to specify folding it in with the nuts). Does anyone know what benefit there might be to holding off adding vanilla until after the bulk of the mixing is done?

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  1. Vanilla extract is prepared with alcohol. Adding it too early in the process allows too much time for the alcohol (hence the vanilla flavor) to dissipate before it has a chance to flavor the ingredients throughout.

    1. For some reason my original response didn't take so if this is double posted -apologies.

      Is it extract or the bean? Or some other form of vanilla, e.g. paste, powder, sugar. Curious. I can see adding it at the end in candy making b/c of the extreme heat of the molten sugar. But in cookies my intuition would be to add it early so that it can meld with the other ingredients.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cinnamon girl

        Extract is often added at the end when making puddings and such (shortly after taking it off the heat). Scraped interior of beans is added early, often simmered with milk.

        I don't think there is an clear reason for adding extract at the end when making a cookie batter. Adding it to the liquid ingredients (but not hot melted butter) should distribute it more evenly.

      2. I have always added at the beginning with the eggs or fats.

        The time spent in the oven is going to neutralize any difference in adding it at the end or beginning.

        1. Foodie, it might just be the particular taste preference of the recipe author.

          1. It is vanilla extract, and the one that calls for it to be folded in wants the nuts and oats folded in at the same time, which is what really got me thinking... wouldn't the oats soak up the vanilla before it could be evenly distributed? So I thought I would turn to the folks here at Chowhound; thanks for your input!

            1. I have always wondered this myself. Seems like one of those overly fussy things. My guess is that since it smells so strongly, it's probably vaporizing, so adding it later reduces that. I bet no one would notice the difference if you added it at the beginning though.

              1. My mother taught me always to put it in with the sugar and fat when creaming - she said the fat carried the flavor. I have since seen (somewhere) validation for this. For hot things, it was to be added after the food was taken from the heat. Folding it in at the end in a cookie recipe seems a bit bizarre to me.

                1. I'm guessing that, if the person who wrote the recipe learned initially to hold the vanilla until the end of the preparation process (e.g. when making candy or other foods that need to be cooled first) they simply transferred the procedure to their cookie recipe out of habit. Can't teach old dogs new tricks; or so I've heard.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: todao

                    the thing is, I've seen this pattern in any number of recipes.

                  2. What about with something like oatmeal? When would you add it for a bowl of oatmeal in the morning...while it's cooking on the stove? I only cook mine for maybe 2 minutes, turn off the heat, cover and then come back when I'm done with make-up, etc.....but I leave it on the electric burner. Thanks!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Val

                      One of my wife's favorite breakfast dishes is a 'farina pudding' (from an old Joy of Cooking). Essentially it is a rich cream of wheat, with butter and egg yolks, plus whipped egg whites. That recipe adds the vanilla near the end, right before folding in the egg whites.

                      1. re: paulj

                        That's what I suspected...at or towards the end...thanks, PaulJ...want to try that variation next time I make the oatmeal.

                        1. re: Val

                          A short vanilla primer... http://www.arizonavanilla.com/howtous...

                          I am personally of the last minute add of vanilla school. Julia told me that ;)

                    2. I added vanilla to something too soon once and wrecked the recipe. I am wracking my brain trying to remember what it was...I'll keep thinking about it. Could it have been an icing? Not sure.