So many baked goods are made with some type of extract, or flavoring. Today, there are many brands of flavorings to choose from. Over the weekend, I went to Michael's, and I saw lots of different flavorings and extracts in the baking isle. I decided to test a bunch of these flavorings on meringues. Flavorings and extracts may seem very similar, but actually, they are very very different. There are also lots of different ways to use these, but it all depends on if you know the difference between an extract and a flavoring.
An extract is basically the actual "juice" of the ingredient mixed
with a diluting alcohol used for extracts. This just makes it able to be cooked with and baked in an oven. An extract usually is the purest form of flavoring you can buy. For example, Vanilla bean extract is just diluted vanilla bean. Some people just use vanilla bean shavings, but people make it a liquid also so that it doesn't affect the consistency of whatever you are making. In some cases, people want to have just the shavings, but sometimes it could ruin what they are making. Like in Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, you have to boil the sugar syrup so that no sugar crystals are crunched between your teeth when eating the frosting. Everything has to be very smooth and light, so liquid vanilla extract has to be used.
As far as flavorings go, they are much more risky. A flavoring is basically a sweetened syrup flavored with some percent of an extract. A flavoring has artificial flavoring to make it better to use in frostings and things you don't bake. it is also better to use for things needing more dominant flavors. Like in glazes, sometimes the powdered sugar makes it taste chalky, so you need to use a very strong flavoring. These can be tricky to find good ones though because they can either be very fake tasting and to strong, or very subtle and too sweet.
So, having both of these considered I recommend trying to stick with extracts as best as you can, and only in some cases use flavorings.
Thanks for reading!
Be sure to check out my meringue tutorial video in the video section!