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7 answers 2589 views
0dcfb05c 8a90 480f 8cf7 cbc33e9a6b5c  me
added about 6 years ago

I believe any pure vanilla extract should suffice when used in small amounts (teaspoon, etc.). I occasionally substitute rum or brandy for vanilla extract; those are flavors more easily detected. Interestingly, the only "true" cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon, which is not easy to come by. Many powdered cinnamons are actually cassia, which is related to cinnamon and is sometimes referred to as Chinese or Saigon cinnamon. The only way to really tell is to buy whole cinnamon and grind them yourself. That being said, I usually hunt down organic cinnamon at Whole Foods or Williams-Sonoma.

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Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added about 6 years ago

wssmom is so on about cinnamon. Different flavors can derive from how old it is, too. As for vanilla extract, I'm with you; I don't necessarily believe that the most expensive is necessarily the best. I bake a lot, seriously a lot, and for the amount I go through, I'm happy with Costco's full pint of the stuff.

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Dan Soloway

Dan is the founder of Kitchen Options

added about 6 years ago

In regard to vanilla extract in baked goods, often it seems as if the flavor just doesn't show up, however; usually the vanilla isn't supposed to be front and center. Vanilla extract rather, enhances the prominent flavor. Vanilla is often used in chocolate production as it adds another layer of complexity, richness and fullness to the cocoa (earthy, nutty and fruity) and cocoa butter (fat) among other ingredients (milk, etc.). And a teaspoon in a batch of chocolate chip cookies could get lost. Don't upgrade and stick with your favorite or Google extract equivalent and put in the appropriate amount of seeds from a whole bean.

Cinnamon, now that's a whole different story. Other submissions have hit this one on the head. It is correct to say that 'true' cinnamon in from Sri Lanka. I import the highest grade for chefs and the product is totally different than traditional store bought products. Cinnamon can have citrus (usually orange/orange blossom notes), clove tones and even evergreen (as cinnamon is related). Age does matter, as well as origin and bark. Ground cinnamon is often blended between Sri Lankan and other cinnamon. If you want to find what works for you go to a spice house that sells single origin and buy a few. Perhaps Penzeys (store in Grand Central Market) is easy for online or Kalustyans in Manhattan.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 6 years ago

I think awhile back Cooks Illustrated did a comparison of vanilla extracts and did not find discernable differences in the final product when cheaper vanillas were used. I have had the same experience. I'm all for quality products and I have no problem splurging on good oils and vinegars and chocolate but where vanilla extract is concerned, I just don't see the difference in taste.

32fb3935 151a 4db2 ac26 980d4c0d5cea  lorigoldsby
added about 6 years ago

There are times that I want a headier note of vanilla, and I just double the amount you would usually use or use the vanilla bean. Also if you are wanting a "vanilla" flavor( actually you are probably seeking the smell as much as the taste). Try using vanilla sugar. You can make your own by storing a vanilla bean in an airtight jar with a couple of cups of sugar. Use this as your recipe calls. This also makes an excellent dusting sugar for the tops of cookies, muffins or scones and gives off a lovely waft of vanilla.

32fb3935 151a 4db2 ac26 980d4c0d5cea  lorigoldsby
added about 6 years ago

As for the cinnamon, if you can get to a penzy's spices, you can actually smell the different varieties. This may help you decide which blends you like best. I have two that I like, one for savory dishes and a different one for sweet.

D6706402 eb96 499d a671 b2e90db25df9  bike2
added about 6 years ago

There was an extensive discussion I think on Foodpickle when this first started all about vanilla, if I recall correctly. What I remember learning: The general consensus was that good vanilla is not a waste and be careful about vanilla from Mexico. In terms of cinnamon, the sources vary tremendously. How fresh, matters a huge amount. I am really appreciating the intensity of a fresh Saigon cinnamon lately.

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