Vanilla extract offers baked goods an aromatic, creamy flavor. It is made by steeping flayed whole vanilla beans in a water and alcohol solution. The end result is the dark, intense liquid you find in the store. If you're out of vanilla extract or you just don't like it, there are suitable substitutes that offer that nostalgic, mellow flavor.
Whole vanilla beans are available at your local grocery store. Carefully cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the tip of your knife to scrape out the seeds. Vanilla beans are strong, so use a half of a vanilla bean's seeds for every 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Other extract flavors can replace vanilla extract in equal parts, but different extract flavors mean your recipe's end result changes too. Try almond or rum extract, because these have similar flavor profiles to vanilla. If you can, stick to pure extracts versus imitation. Imitation uses artificial flavorings, while pure extracts steep the real ingredients.
Vanilla-flavored soy or almond milk can be used in place of vanilla extract. Use equal parts milk for extract. The vanilla flavor in these milks is mild, so you might not have as distinct of a vanilla flavor as if you used extract.
A liqueur is an alcoholic liquid made from distilling a spirit and infusing it with a spice, herb or fruit. Vanilla-flavor liqueur works as a suitable vanilla extract replacement -- as long as you don't mind the addition of alcohol. If you don't have vanilla liqueur try almond or rum. Use 1 tablespoon of liqueur for every teaspoon of vanilla extract.
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