Using flavors is a good way to change up your baking and add new excitement to your baked goods. There are a few things to keep in mind when experimenting with flavors, like the difference in taste, the makeup of flavors, understanding the effects of heat, and more.
Our Flavor Experiments
One day we wanted a frosting for some tropical cookies we were developing.
We made batch after batch of frosting–coconut, coconut and pineapple, coconut and banana, and more. The combinations rarely turned out a compromise between two flavors. They were new flavors.
Understanding the Chemistry of Flavors
Flavors are complex combinations of sometimes over 200 components. Our huckleberry flavor is built from plums. What they add to those plums to make them taste like huckleberries is a secret.
Adjusting Flavors to Taste
Everyone is a little different. And then we lose taste buds as we age. So older people often require more flavor than younger ones. Most commercial operations–including us–err on the side of more flavor.
How Baking and Heat Affect Flavors
Baking is hard on flavors. If you can smell a lot of flavor as you bake, that’s pleasant but not good. Your flavor is evaporating. The more you can smell, the less there is in the cake.
Recipes that call for a long baking time, require more flavor Likewise, a shake that is not baked requires less.
In our mixes, we use dry flavors which are more tolerant of heat.
The Ice Cream Industry
The ice cream industry competes on flavors. They use dry flavors because they don’t want the glycol of wet flavors affecting the freezing point of their ice creams.
When should I add my flavor?
At the last minute. If you are cooking on the stovetop, add the flavor when you turn the heat off.
Natural or Artificial Flavor?
That’s a personal choice. Artificial flavors are more potent. For me personally, there is so little flavor by volume in a serving that I go for the best flavor. FDQ (Food and Drink Qualification) governs both.
What about the grocery store?
Their selection is limited and grocery stores compete on price. You’ll probably pay more but you’ll find better flavors online.
How many flavors are there, anyway?
Thousands. We buy nearly all of our flavors, including maybe 50 dry flavors, from one trusted supplier. They have maybe 700 flavors in their catalog. Another vendor has 1,000. One vendor sells nothing but dairy based flavors—cheese, butter, sour cream, etc.
If you need a flavor that you can’t find, contact us. We may be able to do something.
(Updated from January 22, 2015)