Ever wondered about the difference between vanilla essence vs vanilla extract? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have absolutely no clue which type of vanilla flavouring you should use for baking cakes and the like? If you look at vanilla essence vs vanilla extract, you’ll find that each of these ingredients is suited to a specific vanilla recipe.
Vanilla Essence vs Vanilla Extract
In fact, the issue of vanilla essence vs vanilla extract throws up quite large differences, particularly when it comes to natural flavours and how these ingredients are made. Therefore, pay close attention to your ingredients and how you use them.
Excellent Vanilla Products You’ll Love
Here’s a list of things you might need for making your vanilla recipes. Don’t worry, we’ll get right back to the little-known issue regarding the differences of vanilla essence vs vanilla extract. First let’s make sure you have the essentials:
difference between vanilla essence and vanilla extract
Both vanilla extract as well as vanilla essence are used to flavour food. For instance, both can be added into cakes, custards, ice cream recipes and other desserts to produce that lovely, soft vanilla flavour.
For instance, you can easily find these two in these simple dessert recipes:
- tin roof ice cream – a silky smooth ice cream with notes of honey
- Maltesers cheesecake or biscoff cheesecake – with an extra kick of vanilla flavour
- vegan sweet potato pancakes – with the addition of the vanilla essence or vanilla extract, it has just the right amount of sweetness
- almond brittle – a crunchy and nutty dessert
- cream cheese frosting – a cake wouldn’t be complete without perfectly flavoured frosting
However, prior to discovering the uses, similarities and differences between vanilla essence vs vanilla extract, let’s explore vanilla.
Sometimes, it’s just better to cook with ingredients which are natural. For instance, instead of wondering what the difference between vanilla essence vs vanilla extract is, just use fresh vanilla beans.
Believe it or not, vanilla comes from Vanilla orchids, a flat-leaved vanilla flower which is native to Mexico. The term vanilla comes from the Spanish word ‘vaina’, which translates to sheath or pod. As such, vanilla beans are located inside vanilla pods which look like long, thin brown fruit stems. The vanilla flower has been cultivated all the way back to Aztec times. In fact, vanilla only arrived in Europe in the mid-16th-century via the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes.
Today, vanilla is cultivated all over the world. That said, Madagascar and Indonesia produce almost 65% of the world’s supply of vanilla.
In sum, there are three common types of vanilla:
- Mexican vanilla – also known as Mesoamerican vanilla
- Bourbon vanilla – from the Ile Bourbon
- Madagascar vanilla – produced all across the islands of the Indian Ocean
So, no matter the difference between vanilla essence vs vanilla extract, both were most likely made from the above-mentioned types of vanilla.
how to prepare vanilla beans
Take a sharp knife and make a long insertion in the middle of the pod. Use your fingers to open up the vanilla pod, exposing you to tons of small vanilla beans. Then, take the blade of the knife and run it along the inside of the pod in one direction. In this step, you should be basically scooping up the vanilla beans. You can also do this with a less sharp knife or small teaspoon if you feel more comfortable with less sharp objects.
Once you have your vanilla beans, you are ready to cook!
Here’s a couple of vanilla-based recipes which call for fresh vanilla beans:
- risalamande – the national Danish Christmas dish
- apple and pistachio Danish braid – a flavourful braid with inclusion of cardamom and fresh orange juice
However, I understand that sometimes, it’s just easier to go for the essence or extract as the preparation is less time-consuming. Basically, all you have to do is open the lid and pour the right amount into your dessert.
vanilla extract ingredients
Again, there is quite a significant difference between vanilla essence vs vanilla extract. First of all, vanilla extract is made in a natural way from natural ingredients. It is made by soaking the vanilla pods in an alcohol solution which also contains water.
The vanilla flavour is thus absorbed by the liquids. Since it is a natural product, cooks lean towards using this ingredient, especially when it comes to making a homemade custard, creme anglaise or panna cotta.
vanilla extract substitute
Excellent substitutes are vanilla essence, beans (best choice), paste or syrup.
vanilla extract price
The price can range anywhere from £6 – 15, depending on the quality and the use of premium vanilla beans.
vanilla essence ingredients
Compared to vanilla extract, vanilla essence is synthetically made. Indeed, artificial vanilla flavouring is a reasonable umbrella term for it. I recommend reading the labels, because goodness knows what additives and colourants the essence contains. Always double check for artificial content.
vanilla essence substitute
Other jars of vanilla flavouring, vanilla extract (best choice), beans, paste or syrup.
vanilla essence price
Since vanilla essence is a synthetic product, it is a lot cheaper. You can find jars from £2.50 – 6.00. Naturally, I suggest to always opt for the fresher and higher quality alternative. Your recipes will taste a lot better.
vanilla bean paste
Now as if the confusion with vanilla essence vs vanilla extract wasn’t enough, there is also an ingredient known as vanilla paste. In essence, vanilla paste is a mix between vanilla extract and vanilla powder. Most of the time, it is made with fresh ingredients, without the use of additional artificial flavouring.
Vanilla bean paste is an excellent alternative for both vanilla essence and extract. You can use the paste in these easy recipes:
Did you know the difference between vanilla essence vs vanilla extract? Which one do you prefer to cook with? Let me know in the comments section below.