My name is Margaret and for six months I have been whisking and creaming and frosting my way through a lot of desserts. The other thing about me: this isn’t just my job, it’s my family. My great-grandfather started this company over a century ago. My whole life, I have grown up in the culture of vanilla. Whenever vanilla comes up in a conversation with someone new, which happens more than you’d think, (“Where do you work?” ‘Oh, my family owns a business.” “What kind of business?” “We manufacture vanilla extract and other flavorings.”), inevitably there will be a conversation ranging from fifteen minutes to an hour about vanilla- where is it grown, why is it so expensive. “Hey, I have this bottle of vanilla my daughter-in-law brought me from Mexico, is it legit?” On multiple occasions, I have even been known to break open my bottles of Tahitian and Bourbon vanilla and let my friends smell the difference. I am the vanilla girl. But this isn’t my confession.
You see, my family doesn’t just manufacture vanilla. We manufacture hundreds of different flavors. My grandfather was a genius flavor chemist and problem solver, and his formulations are stellar. The thing is, I never really used these flavors myself. I always thought of them as primarily for industrial uses, not the home baker. Sure, I always had a bottle of lemon, almond, and maple extracts in my cabinet that I would pull out occasionally. But I go through probably a gallon of pure vanilla extract a year. And while I am always recommending to my friends that they find a great vanilla extract, I have never recommended that they pick up our English Toffee, for instance. That’s the big confession.
Over the last six months, I have been on a mission to build up our recipe section and particularly, I want to give people ample ideas to use our more niche flavorings. I am steadily working my way through the flavors and developing recipes that strike my fancy that week. Here’s what I have learned: these flavors are outstanding. Now, I am a good home baker. Another defining feature of my family culture is that all the women attached to the Lochhead name are fabulous bakers. We have a few dogmas when it comes to baking: 1. Use good vanilla (duh). 2. Use real butter. 3. Never over-mix your cookies and cakes. These rules go a long way to help you produce delicious desserts. So, growing up in a family of gifted bakers, I became a gifted baker myself, thanks to their instruction. I am saying this to tell you that my desserts were good, very good. But I was never able to achieve that five-star bakery kind of taste.
Well, over the last six months, I have unlocked the secret and it has been at my fingertips my whole life. It’s our flavors. Even when the three rules fail me (I am looking at you, vegan recipes), the flavorings make my desserts over-the-top delicious. I am really not tooting my own horn. I am singing the praises of lime extract, rum extract, pumpkin spice flavoring, coffee extract, strawberry extract– all of them! They are SO good. I will never make banana bread again without a teaspoon of banana flavor.
Here’s how I recommend you use the flavorings:
- Use them to enhance the fruits/flavors you are already using. I am not suggesting that you eliminate bananas from your banana muffins.
- Use them in combination with pure vanilla extract. While these flavorings are outstanding, nothing beats pure vanilla extract. A good rule of thumb is 1 Tablespoon of Pure Vanilla Extract and 1 Tsp of Flavoring. (Some flavors like almond, cinnamon, lemon, orange, and lime are stronger than the others and if you want a more subtle flavor boost, start with ½ a Tsp).
- Stick to 2 flavorings per recipe component, max. If you are making a cheesecake, for instance, you can use say six flavors in total but break them down like this: crust: vanilla powder and coffee; cheesecake: vanilla paste and java crème; sour cream topping: coffee and chocolate. I don’t recommend putting coffee, java cream, chocolate, and vanilla into the batter of the cheesecake.
- Always use the corresponding citrus extract to accompany citrus zest in a recipe. You won’t regret it.
That’s it! These flavorings are delicious and versatile, and I promise they will take your baking to the next level. I guess it’s true what we say,