Vanilla extract vs. Vanilla powder

  • Vanilla extract vs. Vanilla powder Zeina

    What is the difference among the vanilla extract and the powdered vanilla?

    When I'm making a certain recipe if it required vanilla extract, is it ok to replace it with powder, and what is the proportion among them?

    I am intending to use powdered vanilla in a buttercream recipe from Martha Stewart's recipes, is it recommended to substitute?

  • I imagine you are asking about a vanilla powder such as this one from Nielsen-Massey marketed by King Arthur Flour which is vanilla and maltrodextrin, or this one this one, marketed through Amazon claims to be stronger than vanilla extract, and to consist of "vanilla bean extractives [sic], evaporated cane juice, silica, cellulose."

    If these are typical products, most of what is in the bottle is filler—and the rest is vanilla flavoring. Both of these particular products indicate that their flavoring is natural, although it almost certainly is created by making vanilla extract, then evaporating the solvent, much as instant coffee is made.

    Of course, most of what is in a bottle regular vanilla is alcohol, water, or sugar depending on the specific brand. Only a bit is actual flavorants from vanilla beans.

    So the real issues become:

    • What is the relative strength of vanilla flavoring on a measure per measure basis
    • How do the carriers affect a given recipe

    I cannot answer the first question—hopefully someone else can provide insight there, but it will probably vary by brand or specific product.

    The second property opens up new opportunities for the powders:

    • Since they have no water, they can be added to chocolate without causing seizing
    • They can be used in dry mixes, such as a homemade hot chocolate mix or pancake mix
    • They can be used in coatings or powders, as for powdered donuts
    • They have no alcohol, which may or may not make them acceptable to those who avoid all alcohol for religious reason (I am not expert enough to say this as an absolute, because it is likely alcohol was used in their manufacturer to create the extract used to make the powder)

    In most typical applications, you should be able to use one of the powdered vanillas. However, I cannot tell you the ratio of substitution—hopefully your specific product has guidance on its packaging.

    The one place I would not try it is a delicate icing (in the case of the second product) as some of the fillers may give it a gritty texture.

  • There are different products sold as "vanilla powder". What I have seen is pure synthetic vanillin crystals, without maltodextrine or other stuff in it.

    Generally, I would recommend using the extract if available. It is always made from the real plant, and the alcohol dissolves many different flavor compounds from the plant. Even if the powder is a dried extract from the real plant, it may have less flavor than the extract, if it uses less powerful solvents than alcohol, or if some of the dissolved flavors happen to be removed in the process of drying. But you also have the risk of getting synthetic vanillin, which is only one of the compounds which give the plant its aroma. Used on its own, it is rather harsh and one-dimensional. The extract always tastes better than synthetic vanillin.

substitutions vanilla
Related questions and answers
  • 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?

  • This question has answers which explain the difference between vanilla essence and vanilla extract, and which tell you when you may want one over the other - if I am correct in thinking that "vanilla essence" is the same as "vanilla flavouring"? My question is - in baking where colour is not an issue, how do I substitute one for the other? For example in a recipe that asked for 1tsp of extract, how much essence would I use in it's place?

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  • I was making a butterscotch pie for the weekend, by following a recipe from the net. The ingredient list was 1 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 cups half-and-half cream -- (used UK double cream) 5 egg yolks , seperated slightly beaten save whites for Meringue 1/4 cup butter , sliced up 2 teaspoons vanilla extract I followed the instructions (I... anything wrong with either the recipe / instructions or suggest what I have did wrong.

  • I would like to start using Vanilla bean paste in some of my recipes. I usually use Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract and wondered if the measurement was the same i.e. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste. I thought I heard somewhere that the paste is a lot stronger. Would appreciate any feedback.

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