Includes sweeteners, herbs, spices, chocolate, and extracts.
This is a paste made with finely ground blanched almonds, sugar, glycerin, and sometimes almond extract. Bakers use it to make cakes and cookies. Bitter almond paste is flavored with oil of bitter almonds, and is worth seeking out if you plan to make amaretti. Look for tubes or cans of it among the baking supplies at your supermarket.Learn more
Annatto seeds don't have a lot of flavor, but they impart a rich reddish-orange color to stews and sauces. Look for the seeds, either whole or ground, in Latin American or Caribbean markets. To extract the color, steep the seeds in boiling water for about 20 minutes, then discard the seeds.Learn more
This exquisite brandy has a soft apple fragrance. Calvados = calva (cal-VAH-dohs) is the French version, applejack = apple jack is the inferior American version. Calvados is ranked much like cognac. The very best Calvados are labeled Napoleon, Extra Old (XO), Extra, or Hors D'Age. After that comes VSOP, Vieille Reserve, or VO. Next come Vieux or Reserve Calvados, then those with three stars or three apples on their labels.Learn more
This enormously popular Italian vinegar is prized for its sweet, fruity flavor and mild acidity. It's terrific for deglazing pans, dressing salads and vegetable dishes, and for seasoning everything from grilled meat to poached fruit. Its quality varies enormously. Expensive artisan-made balsamic vinegars (labeled traditional or tradizionale) are aged in wood barrels for at least 12 years and can cost over $100 per bottle. They're exquisitely complex, syrupy and only slightly acidic. Those who can afford them often drink them as they would a vintage port, or use them in desserts, where their sweetness and subtleties can be shown off to best advantage. Cheaper commercial brands are watered down with wine vinegar and artificially colored, but they're fine for most recipes.Learn more