In spite of the fact that the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen has assured us that imitation vanilla extract is at least as good as the real thin in most baked goods, I still use real vanilla extract the majority of the time. My favorite vanilla extract is Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Vanilla Bean Extract Crush because, in addition to being a very high quality extract, it offers a little something extra: crushed vanilla beans in the extract. The vanilla beans ensure that everything you baked with the extract will have little flecks of vanilla in it. It makes cakes, frostings, pudings, etc. look beautiful without having to do the extra work prepping fresh vanilla beans. Plus, it’s less expensive to use than sticking with whole beans every time because the bottles are quite large and last for a long time.
If you’re so inclined to make your own vanilla extract, you should be able to achieve the same effect by scraping vanilla beans into your mixture. And you can make the Sonoma bottle go a long way after it has been emptied by pouring any other brand of vanilla in to catch any left-behind vanilla specks.
ashleyJune 11, 2008
i use the same extract! i love it!
EmilineJune 11, 2008
I want this!
KellyJune 11, 2008
Ooh. I really want this. It looks like they sell it at a grocery store in Sonoma so I’ll have to look for it when I go there on vacation this fall. Thanks for the tip!
DougSeptember 7, 2008
You can find Sonoma’s “Crush” and a bunch more of Sonoma Syrup Co.’s extracts and flavored syrups at International Organics, a cool gourmet and organic webstore at http://www.international-organics.com
LindaDecember 3, 2008
For any interested, Tuesday Morning is selling the extract as well as another blend of Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla extract for a good price. I believe it is $11.99. Most places have it $18 or more. I’ve been stockpiling for a couple of weeks. I love the vanilla crush and the other one isn’t a bad one either. Certainly better than most you find in the regular grocery store.