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I have been cooking for a while and have noticed small amount of Vanilla extract needed in cakes, cookies, muffins, even a smoothie recipe. Often times I forget the Vanilla or don't have any. What am I losing in general in a recipe without any Vanilla Extract?

Then in this recipe 1 cup yogurt, 1 banana, 4-6 cups milk, 1 peach, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract what does the Vanilla add or subtract?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Vanilla extract adds the flavour of vanilla! Not as nice as using a real vanilla bean, but significantly cheaper and much easier to get hold of.

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I could go on about how it adds an aromatic note, a comforting familiar flavor, etc... but basically that's the answer: adding vanilla extract adds the flavor of vanilla... –  Michael at Herbivoracious Jun 22 '11 at 2:01
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There seems to be more to it: I read somewhere that vanilla is supposed to be a flavour enhancer. If this is true, then all other flavours are more strongly perceived. But I can't find where I read it. –  rumtscho Jun 22 '11 at 7:37
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@rumtscho: you are correct! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla#Usage mentions it as well. foodproductdesign.com/articles/2011/02/… explains this a bit, but not enough for me to provide a good answer. –  Mien Jun 22 '11 at 11:44
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Just an FYI, always make sure you're using vanilla extract, not vanilla essence, the latter being a horrible fake product. –  ElendilTheTall Jun 22 '11 at 14:10

In recipes that contain eggs (mainly deserts), vanilla might not add any noticeable vanilla flavor but it will remove the unpleasant egg smell.

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Unpleasant egg smell? You need to start buying better eggs, man. ;) –  Henrik Söderlund Jun 23 '11 at 11:28

Vanilla acts sort of like salt. It is not just there to add flavor but to enhance the flavors around it.

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