Cooks Illustrated’s first vanilla extract taste test had some interesting results, their tasters preferred imitation vanilla to the real thing. Now they’ve repeated the test, but this time real vanilla came out on top! They found that real vanilla really makes a difference:
If you’re only buying one bottle of vanilla for cooking, baking, and making cold and creamy desserts, our top choice is a real extract. If you only use vanilla for baking, we have to admit there’s not much difference between a well-made synthetic vanilla and the real thing. Speaking to pastry chefs, we learned that many buy an arsenal of vanilla extracts, using cheaper imitation for baking and pure for confections made with moderate or no heat, such as puddings, pastry cream, and buttercream frosting.
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