Almond Essence is a flavouring agent generally manufactured using artificial ingredients. It is used to impart the characteristic almond flavour to certain foods such as cakes, cookies and other confectionary and baked products. As a flavouring ingredient, it is popularly used in some Chinese sweets like Almond Jelly (or almond tofu) or Almond Tea. Similarly, it may be used in Indian sweets such as ‘Halwa’ or ‘Phirni’.
Difference between Almond Extract and Almond Essence
The principal difference between the two is that while almond extract is obtained directly from pure almonds, almond essence is synthetic. Since almond essence is made artificially, it is therefore cheaper compared to pure almond extract. Although synthetic almond essence is widely available, for culinary use, it is worth the effort of looking out for the superior quality original almond extract in health food shops, well-stocked delicatessens, and some larger supermarkets.
Note: Irrespective of which of the two one decides to use, due to the strong dominant flavour, it must be used very cautiously, no more than a few of drops.
Once the seal is broken, almond essence needs to be sealed properly and stored in a cool dry section of the refrigerator.
· Almond essence is used as a flavor enhancer in a number of cakes, pastries, cordials, confectionary and desserts.
· It may also be used in order to reinforce the obvious bitter-sweet flavour in any recipe, requiring the use of almonds.
· The use of almond essence may be called for not only in sweet dishes, but in certain savoury dishes too. For e.g. In North West Frontier Province, biryanis and elaborate rice dishes from Peshawari Cuisine, may use almond essence for a distinctive aroma along with or instead of ‘kewra’ i.e. rose water and ‘kesar’ i.e. saffron.
Some simple recipes using Almond Essence are-
Creamy Cauliflower & Almond Soup
- almond essence
- coarsely powdered almonds
- salt and pepper
For the topping
- lightly roasted almond slivers
- a little cream and fresh parsley
- The cauliflower, onion and potato are cut into large chunky pieces.
- They are boiled with sufficient water or pressure cooked.
- When cooked and cooled, the vegetables are blended in a liquidiser and strained.
- Milk is then added to the soup. The almond essence and lastly ground almonds are added and cooked for a few minutes.
- Seasoning of salt and pepper is added.
- The soup is served hot topped with cream, fresh parsley leaves and almond slivers.
Power Fruit Smoothie
- Fresh seasonal fruit such as apricot, banana, berries, mango, papaya, peach, melon or kiwi fruit
- low-fat plain yoghurt
- fruit juice such as apple, orange, pineapple or cranberry
- Almond essence
- wheat germ
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- All the above ingredients are put together in a blender and blended until smooth.
- The smoothie is poured into glasses and served with a garnish of almond slivers.
- This nutritious shake will keep in the refrigerator for upto two days.