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Dec 23, 2009 02:14 PM

substituting pure almond extract for almond oil??

hello, i will be making biscotti later, and am curious if the almond extract will suffice. i'm personally not a big almond extract fan, and am considering leaving it out altogether...opinions? tia!

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  1. Almond extract is stronger than almond oil. If I was to make almond biscotti, I would use almond extract but you can sub vanilla with just about any flavor of biscotti, with various nuts, pecans, walnuts or pistachios, fruits, figs, apricots or dried cranberries or chocolate chunks, but almond is very traditional.
    I like anise extract or seed, lemon or orange zest, or sweet spices like cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg, which can be paired with vanilla extract.
    There's probably two thousand biscotti combos to make so you're not stuck with almond.

    1. Actually, 'almond oil' in a recipe is generally a substitute for 'bitter almond oil' especially in biscotti which are kin to amaretti and the cherry pits that make the amaretto flavor are close kin to bitter almond (as are the apricot pits from which the pseudo-drub laetrile was derived).

      As I understand it, which is hazily, true almond oil was made from a mix of almonds and bitter almonds, and true bitter almond oil is a fairly potent poison, rendering it essentially (so to speak) unavailable in commercial form at the supermarket or gourmet market (perhaps one can buy it underground from the mob?).

      At any rate, when I was a kid, one could still get Dr, Oetker pure bitter almond oil in tiny vials, and my mother used to add the most infinitesimal drip as a flavoring. It was/is considerably stronger than almond extract, in the sense of a little going a long way, though the extract seems to have a kick because of the alcohol. It also has a quite distinctive flavor (though that may be less obvious since it is so tied to what we think of as almond flavor).

      Today one can find artificial bitter almond oil, which I believe is artificial only in the sense that it is derived from something other than bitter almonds, and it tends to be labeled 'almond oil' and it still; packs a wallop. Simply try touching the lip and then washing your hands and then lick your fingertip - it will likely be very present still.

      It's also the flavor that gives the best marzipan - I am thinking Elk Confectionary here - its very distinctive flavor.

      So, for biscotti that have a clear amaretti or almond flavor, I would personally not substitute.

      1. A further discussion and assessment of almond oil, sweet and bitter, and almond extract may be seen at

        Bitter almond oil is illegal in the US, due to it's hydrogen cyanide content, and using sweet almond oil will not give you the intense almond flavor that real almond extract will, which contains almond oil and alcohol. So, although bitter almond oil would be the best flavoring to use, almond extract will suffice quite well. If you want artific[al bitter almond flavoring, Lor-Ann makes an artificial bitter almond oil, and Dr. Oetker carries a bitter almond flavoring essense, both available at amazon.

        6 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Hey there, I found this thread while wondering about bitter almond oil on the "I have almond paste" thread. The King Arthur Flour site also sells the Lor-Ann variety.

          Have you baked with it? Some of the reviews I've read (from people I don't know at all) don't sound so favorable. Here's the recipe:

          One of their tips is to sub lemon or orange oil...neither of which I have, either. I wonder if you've used any of them and can tell me how you like--especially as I'd bet you've made almond-y things like this.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            The Dr. Oetker bitter almond essence is a better product that Lor-Ann. It is very intense, as farago pointed out, and just generally a better flavor; not only that, but a lttle goes a very long way. When the OP wrote the query, I wasn't exactly sure what the OP was referring to, sweet almond oil or bitter almond essence, as opposed to extract. In lieu of purchasing bitter almond essence, extract is a reasonably good substitution. Since the OP isn't fond of almond extract, for reasons not explained, I suggested other flavoring and add in options.

            Lemon and orange oils are always much better than the extract versions. Zest, which contains the essential oils of citrus, would be a very good substition. Fiori di Sicili, a combo of vanilla and citrus, similar in flavor to the Good Humor Creamcicles of our childhood, but much better, would also be a nice option, if you wanted to get away from the ubiquitous almond.

            Hope this helps, Ms. Katty. Let us know about your project and how it turns out.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              That helps quite a bit--thank you! I'm going to hold off on the essence and think about adding zest to the almond clouds when I bake them. Mind you, I still have to order the Love 'n Bake (♥!), so it'll be a while, but I will definitely get to it and report back. Oh and I love both the Creamsicles of our childhood AND the adult beverage version, too! Appreciate your advice as always.

          2. re: bushwickgirl

            I recently (quite serendipitously) stumbled upon a small vial of bitter almond at Sundial Gardens, a local tea purveyor with an online storefront, too. As an almond lover, I've been eagerly dialing up almond intensity in some of my favorite recipes.

            Farago's comment upthread about adding "the most infinitesimal drip as a flavoring" is RIGHT ON. I googled Dr. Oetker and found this, too:

            Specifically, "1/4 teaspoon is equal to 1 teaspoon of other flavoring brands." I've been adding BOTH--dialed back amount of regular almond extract, then trying to add less than 1/4 teaspoon bitter almond. It yields an OUT OF THIS WORLD ALMOND-Y result!

            But I really want to say this, shameless licker of spoons and spatulas that I am. NEVER LICK THE BITTER ALMOND SPOON. NEVAH EVAH EVAH! OHMYGAWD...I did tonight and I thought my tongue was going to burn right outta my mouth! In fact, it was maybe 45 minutes ago and my tongue still tingles a bit. YOWZAH! So just LIKE. Even LOVE. But NEVER LICK! I couldn't be happier to have found this product.

            My little vial is labeled "Attar New Ipswich, N.H." When I looked at the Attar site, I didn't see it there anymore, though. This is an amazing ingredient for almond lovers, so I hope I'll find more at the Sundial!

            1. re: kattyeyes

              Wow, live and learn, kattyeyes. And thanks for the warning for other posters who may follow you into great almond love.

              1. re: kattyeyes

                Yes, there is such thing as too much almond flavor.

                I recently purchased LorAnn almond oil to replace my Attar bitter almond:

                Information in the link says "When substituting these flavors for extracts, use ¼ to ½ teaspoon for 1 teaspoon of extract."
                I used 1 teaspoon of almond oil to replace 2 teaspoons of extract and ruined an entire pan of almond bread pudding. Oh, it's bitter all right. And so am I. A rather sad lesson learned. :( Though I do confess, my house smells like an Italian bakery.

                How could something smell so fantastic and TASTE SO BITTER?! BOOHOOHOO.