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A shout-out for almond extract

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I never used to bother with almond extract because I'm lazy, I didn't have it, and it's expensive. But recently I bought some (the good stuff -- it cost almost $10 for a 4-oz bottle), and I have to say I will never be without it again! I LOVE this stuff, it really adds a lot to my almond-based cakes and biscotti, and a little really goes a long way. So any of you out there who might be on the fence about it -- buy it now. You won't regret it.

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  1. When I was a kid my mom would sometimes sub almond extract for vanilla in recipes which was fantastic. Always been a fan you don't need to convince me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rezpeni

      I sub it for vanilla in chocolate cheesecake and then do an amaretti cookie crust instead of chocolate wafer or oreo. It's great. I am a huge almond extract fan!

    2. I like your attitude. Almond flavors are SO underused and underappreciated.

      1. it's fantastic added to this sour cherry tart: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/281699

        1 Reply
        1. re: rose water

          Ditto, I canned some sour cherries last summer and they will soon be used for this recipie...

        2. Heck yes! I ran out of vanilla extract and substituted in some almond extract in a chocolate chip - dried cherries - cashew - oats cookie. The results were phenomenal. I now seriously consider subing almond for vanilla on every occasion that a recipe calls for vanilla. I don't do it all the time, but it's at least gotten me thinking about the flavor profiles.

          1. Almond extract is my "secret ingredient" in desserts. I add a few drops to pretty much everything. You'd be amazed at how good a hint of almond extract is in pumpkin pie!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lixer

              Oh will try this for sure.

            2. I use almond in place of vanilla probably 50% of the time--love it. BTW, try a 1/2 & 1/2 mix of almond AND vanilla, really good. Even better is almond, vanilla, AND coconut extract. Yeah, I like to gild the lily.

              1. Almond extract is great in biscotti (Italian pastry 'twice cooked'). My wife's genes are from Petilia Policastro, in the province of Crotone (Catanzaro before 1996), region of Calabria, and her genes tell her that almond extract is a must for biscotti plus slivered almonds.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ChiliDude

                  Yes! I've been making biscotti for a long time now, I love them, but the almond extract really makes them even more delicious. And now they actually taste (almost) like the ones in Italy....

                2. My mom always made cherry cream pies with vanilla in the pudding and almond in the cherry part. I use almond in cherry pies and poppy seed bread with vanilla, butter and almond flavorings. I used it in in an angel food cake today. It smells and tastes so good but I'm with you on the price. I've been trying to find some at a better price myself.

                  1. http://www.theposter.com/otherextract...

                    $3.50 for a 4 oz bottle and it's excellent quality!

                    I love almond and raspberry together and use a good deal of almond extract myself.
                    Or in melted dark chocolate.

                    1. Mmmm...I agree that the good quality stuff is truly underrated. Has anyone tried the spice mahlab, ground cherry pits that have a lovely almond flavour? I get mine from Penzey's. I'm in love with anything almond.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chefathome

                        I grew up with mahlab and use it in certain bread. What else do you use it in?

                        1. re: geminigirl

                          Quick breads, braises (i.e. lamb), ground in a spice rub...love the subtle almond/cherry flavour.

                      2. I concur about using good almond extract instead of (or in addition to) vanilla. It does combine especially well with cherry flavors, though I'm having a hard time thinking of a flavor it wouldn't complement, even savory ones. ..

                        Always add it when I whip cream. Almost always when I make custard or pudding.

                        And half an eyedropper (twelve to fourteen drops) in a cup of hot cocoa or a big glass of chocolate milk is just heaven!

                        1. If you, like me, prefer to get as much of your calcium as possible from dairy products, but don't need the extra fat, try jazzing up your 1% or even .5% milk, with 2-3 drops of almond extract and a little sweetener. Heat milk and froth lightly for a little bit of calcium-laced comfort.

                          1. Love it in chocolate cake and any baked goods I am garnishing with any kind of nuts.

                            1. This is where almond extract, not the written vanilla extract really shines, in a sable cookie.

                              Toasted Almond Sables Cookies

                              1 cup / 4.5 oz / 130 g unbleached all-purpose flour
                              Scant 1 cup / 4 oz / 115g whole wheat flour
                              1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
                              1/2 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g sugar
                              1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
                              1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                              1/3 cup / 1 oz / 30 g lightly toasted sliced almonds
                              1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / currants
                              large grain sugar, for sprinkling
                              In a medium bowl whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Set aside.
                              In a separate medium bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla, until smooth and creamy, about a minute. Stir in the almonds. Add the flour and mix until barely combined. Add the currants and stir until just incorporated. Scrape the dough into a ball, and if you feel like it needs to come together a bit more, knead it once or twice on the counter top, or until it is smooth. Shape into a round, flat patty shape wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for a couple hours, or overnight.
                              About fifteen minutes before you're ready to stamp out your cookie shapes, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350F / 180C. And line baking sheets with parchment paper.
                              Roll the dough out 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured counter top, and stamp into desired shapes. You can collect and roll out dough scraps as well, after your first round of stamping. But if the dough gets too warm, pop if back in the refrigerator for a bit. Place cookies at least an inch apart on a prepared baking sheets, sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of large-grain sugar, and chill them one last time in the freezer for another ten minutes.
                              Bake until the cookies are golden at the edges, 13 to 15 minutes, but watch them closely. It's more about coloring than time here. Rotate the sheets back to front about 9 minutes in. Remove from the oven and after a minute or two and transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

                              From 101cookbooks.com

                              1. I love almonds but have not made almond extract a pantry staple, what brand is recommended?

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: OmChef

                                  Extract has a lot stronger flavor than ground almonds. It is made from the oil of bitter almonds, not the sweet almonds that we eat. In amaretti cookies, apricot kernels (in the same genus)
                                  are used for flavoring. I have only used McCormick, readily available in supermarkets.

                                  1. re: OmChef

                                    I bought the Nielsen-Massey brand, because I love their vanilla and I had a gift certificate to a nice store that stocks it. I haven't tried any other kind yet, so I can't compare, but it's really great and I've found 1/4 teaspoon is about what I need for an average-size cookie or cake recipe, so that's almost 100 recipes for $10 (if I did the math right -- :D), or 10 cents a recipe = well worth it!

                                    1. re: OmChef

                                      Penzey's has a nice almond extract, as well.

                                      1. re: emily

                                        The Penzey's one is my brand. I almost always use a dribble of it when using vanilla (unless I'm using the terrific stuff a customer sends me that's not commercially available). I read somewhere that that was commonly done in Vienna.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Yikes -- I read this first as "double", not dribble..
                                          Almondy indeed.

                                          1. re: blue room

                                            You have to go fairly lightly with it in general, I find.

                                        2. re: emily

                                          thanks for the recommendations!

                                      2. I use it all the time! I like the extracts and flavours from Frontier as they come in natural or organic and are not too pricey. I love it in cakes and cookies and even in winter when we heat up some hot cocoa.

                                        I actually like it more than the hazelnut one I had. The almond has more of a strong taste whereas the hazelnut one seemed to get lost in what I was baking.

                                        I tend to try a lot, always have almond, orange and lemon but also like new things. I just picked up a coconut one and haven't used it yet...oh, wait, i put that in cocoa too and it was delicious!

                                        1. I buy a brand called Flavorganics. And I agree about almond retaining its own identity more than hazelnut does. Though the hazelnut's blending in can be good for subtle effect- not so readily identifiable but it still adds a certain something.

                                          1. Almond extract goes well with peaches: peach pie, peach cobbler, added to sweetened plain yogurt or whipped cream served with fresh peaches.

                                            I accidentally bought some artificial almond extract once. Yuuuck, it's even worse than artificial vanilla extract. I was glad it was so cheap that I could pour it down the sink without pain.

                                            1. re price. don't know your location. but for those in the boston/cambridge area, a while back i paid $6 for 4-ounces in a generic brown bottle at christina's spices in inman square.

                                              quality's great and the price reasonable.

                                              1. Sure! I wouldn't leave it out of a cherry dessert, even if I were making lollipops :)

                                                I made a little cake from David Lebovitz, a Basque cherry cake. The filling calls for ouzo, rum, and brandy with the cherries, but the crust includes just a touch of almond extract -- and it's perfect.

                                                http://www.flickr.com/photos/41199487...

                                                Poppy seed cake needs it too -- even if orange/lemon flavors are already there.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  Yum is right! that looks soooo good!
                                                  I agree with the poppy seed cake and almond combo too. perfection.

                                                2. A long time ago, this used to be a staple and I would add it to warm milk, custards, hot chocolate, cakes, cookies and the like. I was using the synthetic kind and even then, it was still truly addictive. I think the habit died when I decided to eat more natural foods.

                                                  I do not even realize you can even get one that is made with real almonds (bitter or sweet), so thanks for enlightening me! I had been resorting to using the Amaretto liqueur all this while.

                                                  On a related note, which other brands are the real deal made with almonds?

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: vil

                                                    Simply Organic brand or this one from Nielsen-Massey:
                                                    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001...

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      Penzey's too.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        I love Penzey's E V E R Y T H I N G--and their extracts are fantastic!

                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                          Yes indeedy, this is the nicest I've ever had. And 4 oz of it lasts a long time.

                                                    2. re: vil

                                                      Thanks for the info! Will keep an eye for these brands, or may eventually order from Penzey's.

                                                    3. congrats on finding a fun ingredient. many of us have used it for years [myself] after finding the flavor it gently imparts is wonderful.

                                                      1. My grandmother's recipe was such a hit on these boards that it was split off to another thread. If you love almond, you'll love these.

                                                        Italian Almond Squares
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/644207

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: krisrishere

                                                          Yes, they're great!

                                                          1. re: krisrishere

                                                            Kris, I made these again last night. I was craving something sweet after dinner and immediately thought of your recipe. SO DELICIOUS and SO QUICK to throw together. Oh, and I had one with my breakfast, too. :)

                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                              After your post using brown butter I was craving them, so I whipped up a batch too. Now I know why I only make these once a year!!

                                                            2. re: krisrishere

                                                              These "read" absolutely sinful. I'm making them today! Thanks for re-posting them.

                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                Hope you like them :)

                                                            3. There are people who are on the fence about almond extract? News to me! I love it. It has a cherry-like quality to it - at least, it does for me! (Please tell me I'm not the only one and I'm not crazy?)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Glam Foodie

                                                                You're not, they are botanically related.

                                                                1. re: Glam Foodie

                                                                  Prunus genus! Cherries, almonds, plums, peaches, apricots. Nice genus, eh? Pretty flowers and delicious fruit 'n' nuts.

                                                                  Why was I initially on the fence? Who knows? Probably just habit and cheapskaty-ness.