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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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up vote 6 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
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
@rumtscho: you are correct! mentions it as well.… explains this a bit, but not enough for me to provide a good answer. – Mien Jun 22 '11 at 11:44
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

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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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

I find vanilla extract doesn't do much at all! I have baked cupcakes with and without vanilla extract but they both taste the same! Vanilla is just for a flavour but you can add almonds, chocolate and strawberries or anything else really!

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Vanilla bean would be expensive, but so incredibly good. Vanilla extract is massively produced, it isn't as concentrated as real bean. They add other ingredients to stretch the vanilla flavor.

But the bottom line is, vanilla enhances flavor.

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Hello KevinTheChef & welcome! Please do not just sum up the already given answers (even when the facts are correct). Perhaps you have some thoughts of your own that might be helpful? – Stephie Jan 7 '15 at 16:41

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