I need to track down "mixed essence" for a West Indian coconut rice pudding recipe. There are lots of versions available from online grocers, but I'm wondering whether anyone could recommend a brand, or explain whether there are major differences between brands/versions from different islands.

China Millman


Rae T. March 17, 2020
Trinidadian Mixed Essence

Makes 1 cup

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons dark rum

1/2 cup pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup pear essence

1/4 cup almond extract

2 drops orange blossom water

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the cinnamon stick into small pieces about 1/3 inch long. Place the cinnamon in a small, sealable container with the grated nutmeg and the rum. Set aside in a cool, dark cupboard for at least one week and up to two. Check the mixture every couple of days to ensure the rum is not evaporating. If necessary, add a bit more rum and reseal to reduce airflow.

Strain the rum mixture into a sealable, dark-colored glass jar and add the remaining ingredients. Seal and shake gently.

Store in a cool, dry place. Use in baked goods in place of vanilla.
China M. January 11, 2011
Thanks so much! Not only does this answer my question, it also gives me one more excuse to buy Luxardo, which I really want to own anyway.
betteirene January 8, 2011
I think the reason you're not getting answers is because 1) there aren't many Caribbean cooks on this site (pity) and 2) mixed essence is an artificial extract. If you smelled the difference between artificial lemon extract and a lemon peel steeped in vodka, you'd know why we aren't fans of most artificial flavors.

Instead of spending the money on something you might not ever use again, try making your own extract by mixing a spoonful of maraschino liqueur (Luxardo) with the zest and a few drops of juice from a lime, with some droplets of real vanilla extract. Heck, you could probably get away with using the juice left in a jar of maraschino cherries if you can't get the Luxardo. Maraschino imparts notes of cherry and almond, and with the lime and vanilla, I think you'd have a mixed essence that would be better and cheaper than what you'd purchase online.
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