As you may or may not know, the wonderful world of baking is following the trend of other consumer products as Americans look for unique quality options that fit their personal taste. Vanilla extract falls into this category, and it has seen major changes. Customers aren’t stuck with a single option of cheap beans in rough grain alcohol that gives desserts a terrible aftertaste. One of the newer variations rising in popularity is Brandy Vanilla Extract, which happens to be one of my favorite products.
Feel free to familiarize yourself with other options in my separate post about other Types of Vanilla Extract.
Our Brandy Vanilla Extract
For those of you that are looking for a delicious Brandy Vanilla Extract, but you don’t have time to read this entire post, you should check out our Lone Goose Bakery Pure Vanilla Extract. This is our signature extract, and we are very proud of it. We pack each bottle with Grade A Madagascar vanilla beans; you can see them inside! I keep it out on my kitchen counter and add it to many of my desserts and beverages. It’s amazing how versatile this vanilla extract is; I even use it in my morning latte (shout out to our awesome Breville Espresso Machine). We make these by hand in small bacthes, so get one while they are in stock!
Blissful Brandy Vanilla Extract
Brandy and vanilla initially may seem like unique partners, but this pairing makes sense upon further examination. These two flavors blend together to make a powerful new product. This area of the post will help you learn what makes brandy vanilla extract deliciously unique. Let’s get started!
What is Brandy???
Brandy is a form of liquor derived from fruit juices that have fermented. I have always thought of brandy as a form of super strong wine, since both are primarily made with grapes. Brandy just gets a little additional love since it goes through the distillation process. In fact, the word “brandy” is actually derived from the Dutch word brandywijn. This Dutch word translates to “burnt wine” because they knew it went through the additional distillation process.
How Traditional Brandy is Made
Quality brandy starts with quality wine grapes. The grapes are used to make juice which ferments for several days before distillation. During distillation, the fermented fruit juice is heated, causing the alcohol to vaporize (173° F). The temperature is usually kept below the boiling point of water (225° F). The alcohol vapors are then diverted with the other vaporized compounds, then cooled to transform it back into a liquid. The result is a liquid mixture with a much higher concentration of alcohol. Traditional small batch brandy is usually distilled twice resulting in a mixture that is 72% alcohol. Aging in barrels slowly reduces the alcohol strength, and distilled water is added at the end of the process to bring it to ~ 40%.
Mass-produced brandy primarily utilizes cheaper grapes. The main difference is the distillation process. This brandy is made with tall and skinny column stills. They are also known as continuous stills because there isn’t a defined beginning and end. Fermented juice is continuously poured from the top and steam rises from the bottom through hollow walls to heat it. The steam doesn’t touch the juice. Vapors rise until they cool, turn to liquid, then fall again. This process results in a 97% alcohol mixture, which is aged & diluted.
A Quick Description of Vanilla Extract
Vanilla Extract is a liquid mixture that contains ethyl alcohol and the natural compounds present in vanilla beans. The product commonly referred to as a “vanilla bean” is actually the pod of the vanilla plant. The tiny seeds are held inside the pod, and are called vanilla caviar. The alcohol is responsible for extracting the natural compounds from the vanilla pod.
If you want to read more about the factors that make a great extract check out my Best Vanilla Extract post.
How to Make Brandy Vanilla Extract
The process to make vanilla extract with brandy follows the same general instructions as other vanilla extracts. This is a brief description; if you’d like to read a more details, check out my Full Vanilla Extract Recipe.
- Check the length of the vanilla pods versus the glass bottle height. If pods are longer, cut the pods in half horizontally to ensure they will fit.
- Slice vanilla pods vertically, scrape out the seeds/caviar, and deposit into a glass bottle. Place the pods into the bottle as well.
- Add brandy with funnel and fill the bottle ~ 90% full. Make sure to cover the vanilla, but avoid overfilling to reduce risk of future spills.
- Secure the lid firmly and shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes to kickstart extraction.
- Store in a cool/dark place ~ 70° F and ensure that the temperature is relatively constant. Shake vigorously every 1-2 weeks to agitate the compounds.
- We recommend letting the vanilla extract age for 4 months to allow plenty of time for the delicious flavor to strengthen. Try a small amount before using for the 1st time.
The taste improves over time, and the greatest gains happen in the first several months. The shelf life for the extract is very long. It can be used for years bringing the delicious flavor to many future recipes.
Flavor of Brandy Vanilla Bean Extract
The flavor of brandy vanilla bean extract is the reason why we selected this variation for our first batches. Decent brandy that has been properly aged will have a sweet taste with the fruity notes of grape exposing the drink’s origin. This is the reason that many restaurants offer brandy as a dessert drink enjoyed after a nice meal. These factors make it a perfect match for the natural vanilla compounds. The sweet flavors blend wonderfully but are not overpowering. Choosing brandy also helps avoid competition with the strong alcohol flavor/aroma present with other liquors.
I’m proud to share my love for vanilla extract made with brandy. We were lucky enough to hear about this idea from someone else, and I am so glad that we tried it. You should spread the word about using this form of vanilla so others can enjoy this unique flavor in their recipes!
Our Vanilla Extract
Check out our favorite vanilla extract which is made with…. brandy!
Have you tried brandy vanilla extract? What did you think? Please share your questions and comments below. Your ideas help enrich the website and make it a fun community for all of our readers. You also help motivate us and improve our writing. We really appreciate it!