Brandy flavoring, also known as a brandy extract, is usually made with alcohol. But because it contains only a tiny amount of alcohol, using this product in baked goods or frosting yields little to no alcoholic content in the final product. Whether you’re wary of using brandy extract or you just don’t have it, you can try some substitutes.
Vanilla extract is a flavoring made from vanilla beans that are mashed in alcohol, but you can find alcohol-free versions at cake decorating stores. They recreate the flavor of whole vanilla beans without the labor. While it doesn’t have the complex flavor of a whole vanilla bean, vanilla extract works as a suitable replacement for brandy flavoring. Buy pure vanilla extract, because it is made from real vanilla beans. Imitation vanilla extract is made using a synthetic vanilla and might have a bitter aftertaste. Substitute vanilla extract at the same rate as the brandy flavoring.
Rum extract offers the concentrated rum flavoring, but without the alcohol associated with using rum liquor. Rum extract also contains a minimal amount of alcohol, but you can also find alcohol-free versions. Similar to vanilla extract, rum comes in natural and imitation form. Natural is made from real rum, which provides a rich, full flavor similar to the real alcohol. Imitation is made from artificial ingredients -- not real rum -- and doesn’t have the same distinct flavor. Use rum extract in equal parts to the brandy extract in your recipe.
Brandy itself is made from a distilled wine or fruit juice. So, you can substitute brandy extract with another fruit extract or real fruit juice. Brandy is typically made with fruits that include apple, apricot, peach, grape or cherry. So use extracts or fruit juice with similar flavor profiles. If you're using a fruit-based extract, substitute in equal parts. If you’re using a freshly-squeezed juice, use 2 parts juice per 1 part extract required in your recipe.
Brandy extract can be substituted with real brandy liquor. Because extracts are concentrated, you’ll need 5 parts of real brandy for each 1 part brandy extract. If you don’t have brandy, scotch or bourbon are suitable replacements, too. Use the same ratio for brandy when substituting. Using real liquor means you’re adding alcohol to your recipe. Alcohol does not burn off 100 percent in a recipe, so only use the liquor if you don't have a problem with a little alcohol in the final dish.