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I am trying to find a way to use hard alcohol such as Fireball, Jack Daniels, Sailor Jerrys and so on and turn them into a baking concentrate. This means the flavor of the alcohol cannot burn off at a high heat. Will xanthan gum or gum Arabic used to make baking concentrates with fruit juice provide the same effect? Or is there a way to take the flavor of the alcohols and turn them into a food concentrate? I just need the flavor not the alcohol itself so if burning off the alcohol which is the actual part that seems to be burning off since it boils at a much lower temperature than water I can do that. Thank you in advance for your time and help.

Cheers, Savannah

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You can't. The compounds which make Jack Daniels taste like Jack Daniels are alcohol soluble and highly volatile. If you try cooking off the alcohol, the taste will evaporate together with the alcohol.

If you are thinking of "rum essence" for baking, that's not derived from rum at all. It's simply ethylformate, and it's produced in a lab.

You can mix xanthan gum or something else with alcohol, but it won't make it a concentrate in any way. In fact, it is likely to make the taste somewhat weaker, as these thickeners have a tendency of trapping taste.

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  • I suppose theoretically you could distill it even further, capturing and concentrating the alcohol and aromatics and leaving water behind, but that's not exactly an everyday home project (and possibly isn't legal everywhere).
    – Cascabel
    Jan 4, 2016 at 18:39
  • @Jefromi : some alcohols get their flavor after distilling. Anything aged in a barrel is distilled, aged (which gives the flavor), and then possibly watered down to get to the desired proof.
    – Joe
    Jan 4, 2016 at 19:43
  • I've had higher proof alcohol (80% rum, for example) and I don't think it will be any better in baking than the normal one.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 4, 2016 at 19:56
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    Yeah, 80% rum is wonderful for flambéing, but it doesn't really impart more rum flavor than 40% rum.
    – Marti
    Jan 4, 2016 at 20:02
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This is just an idea. I have used it in the past and had to put it here as it may help out aficionados like you!

Using a meat injector, with a fine needle, you can make an alcohol syrup. I use Hershey's light and dark syrups. Mix one part hard liquor to three parts syrup and inject it into your cake just after baking. Do not remove the cake from the oven yet; leave it there to soak for five minutes so it uses the residual heat to help the moisture dissipate evenly into the cake. Make sure you do not add too much into one area as it will make your cake a little soggy inside (unless you like it that way).

One other tip is to keep the alcohol syrup in a hot water bath at about 50°C / 120°F. This way it does not shock your bake and penetrates better (while not being so hot that it causes the alcohol to evaporate).

Good luck!

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    You don't need a meat injector for this. There are plenty of recipes where you stab the cake with a skewer, toothpick or similar (you must get through the crust, you don't need to get all the way to the bottom), then pour syrup or alcohol over it and let it soak in.
    – Joe
    Nov 24, 2021 at 16:00
  • Maybe you don’t need it, but I’m still inclined to believe a meat injector would give much more consistent results than the usual poke cake method. I’m gonna give it a shot.
    – Eric G
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:47
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I've made some quite successful (given the rate they disappeared) gin & tonic cupcakes. I concentrated the gin but also reinforced the flavour.

I didn't document the process in quite enough detail to give a full recipe but I started with an orange cupcake recipe that used juice in the mixture. In place of the juice I used a reduction of gin, infused with added juniper berries and lime zest as it simmered*, strained (then diluted with tonic water and lime juice)**. The icing was a slightly wet buttercream with reduced tonic and lime as the liquid.

So the process will be far easier with spirits that have a dominant flavour that you can reinforce, as some will be lost to the reduction. In many cases you'd be talking about caramel and possibly vanilla, though some oak chips would make for an interesting experiment (possibly infuse for longer before reducing).

If you were starting with fortified wine or low-proof spirits and wanted to maintain the alcohol (or didn't mind), freeze-distilling would preserve volatile, alcohol-soluble flavourings. This wouldn't work over about 30% unless you have access to something colder than a normal freezer (dry ice, or perhaps trickery with freezing point depression using ice+calcium chloride - the more usual ice+table salt approach wouldn't go cold enough)


* Infusion, decoction, or something in between?

** Knowing that alcohol doesn't all boil off, especially in baking, I still wanted low alcohol, which is why I reduce the gin then added the tonic, rather than reducing/infusing the mixed G&T.

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