Vanilla has long held first place in American cooking as flavoring, but is no longer highly esteemed, and by many it is considered injurious. The essences of fruits, flowers, and nuts are preferable. They cost twenty cents per bottle of two ounces.
Cordials or liqueurs give by far the most delicate and pleasant flavor to jellies, creams, and many other desserts. They are rich syrups of different flavors, and contain only enough spirits to preserve them. Maraschino has the flavor of bitter cherry, curacao of orange-peel, noyau of peach-kernels or nuts. They cost about $1.50 per bottle, holding nearly a quart, and last so long a time that the expense of using them is really not greater, if as much, as for vanilla, which costs twenty-five cents for two ounces.
Kirsch, rum, and sherry are also much used in high-class cooking, and, like the liqueurs, need not be excluded from use on the score of temperance. The slight flavor they impart to cooked dishes does not suggest the drink or create a taste for liquors. Wine augments the flavor of salt, and so the latter should be used sparingly until after the flavoring is added.
Eau de Vie de Dantzic is made of brandy, is highly flavored, and contains gold-leaf. It is used for jellies, making them very ornamental. There is seldom enough gold-leaf in it, however, and more should be added. A book of gold-leaf costs less than fifty cents.
In French cooking the vanilla bean is generally used instead of the extract. The bean is split and infused in the liquid. Half of one bean is sufficient to flavor one quart, but its use is not always economical, as one bean costs twenty cents. It is said the Tonquin bean, which is much less expensive, very closely resembles the vanilla bean in flavor and can be substituted for it.
Vanilla powder is used for ice-creams.
Flavoring sugars can be made as follows:
Cut one ounce of dried vanilla beans into pieces and pound them in a mortar with one half pound of granulated sugar to a fine powder. Pass it through a fine sieve. Pound again the coarse pieces that do not go through at first. Keep it in a well-corked bottle or preserve jar.
Cut from six oranges the thin yellow rind, or zest, taking none of the white peel. Let it thoroughly dry, then pound it in a mortar with a cupful of granulated sugar and pass it through a fine sieve. Keep it in an air-tight jar. One tablespoonful of this sugar will flavor a quart of custard. The Mandarin orange makes a good flavor.
Another way is to rub cut loaf-sugar against the peel of an orange or lemon. As the sugar breaks the oil sacs and absorbs the zest, scrape it off, dry, and pass it through a fine sieve.
Make the same as orange sugar, using two cupfuls of dried rose leaves to one of sugar.
Orange and lemon syrups are made by pounding the thin yellow rinds with a little tepid water to a pulp, then adding it to cold syrup at 32° (see page 513), and letting it infuse for an hour or more. Strain and keep in air-tight jars.
Pistachio flavor can be obtained, when it is not convenient to use the nuts, by first flavoring with orange-flower water, then adding a very little essence of bitter almond.
A peach leaf, infused with milk when it is scalded for custard, will give the flavor of noyau.
Caramel (see page 78). This gives a very delicate and agreeable flavor to custards, cream and ices.
Preserved orange and lemon peel until clear; let it stand in the syrup several hours, then drain and dry. It will keep indefinitely in a closed jar.