Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baking EMULSIONS--So Much Better Than Extracts

One of the most valuable things we've learned while editing the Cook'n Magazine is that emulsions are much better for baking and cooking than typical extracts.

We first ran on to them in a local cooking/kitchen store, Gygi's. We asked the Gygi folks, "What is the difference between a bakery emulsion and a flavoring extract and what are they used for?" Here's what they told us:
  • A flavoring extract is flavoring dissolved in alcohol, while a flavoring emulsion is flavoring suspended in water with an emulsifier. Citrus oils such as lemon, for instance, have a stronger flavor when placed in an emulsion than an extract, and that is why they often come that way.
  • As far as uses go, bakery emulsions keep the incorporated flavors more stable while your mixture changes temperature, and they combine more easily with other emulsions (butter, sugar, egg for example) than extracts do. (These characteristics make them especially useful for pastry cremes.)
So the bottom line: Emulsions are specially formulated for use in baking and cooking where exposure to heat during the baking and cooking tends to flash-off flavors. The vegetable gums in the emulsion base helps to retain flavor. Lemon, orange, banana, vanilla, almond, and coconut are some common emulsions. They range in price between $3 and $4 for a 2 oz. bottle, depending on where you shop.

Intrigued, we bought some to use for a magazine project--flavored sugar cookies. All results were positively astounding. We had NO idea there could be such a difference. Just as the sales folks at Gygi said, flavors are enhanced--full-bodied and deep. We're convinced and won't use anything else going forward.

Have you tried flavor emulsions, and if so, what are your thoughts? Have a recipe to share using an emulsion? Please do. Meanwhile, here's to family dinner made easy, and even tastier as we incorporate emulsions into our cooking and baking!

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