In a recipe, even a small amount of vanilla can make a big difference. Like salt, vanilla is a powerful "flavor potentiator," which means it enhances our ability to taste other flavors. But does imitation extract work just as well as pure vanilla? To find out, the experts at America's Test Kitchen stirred 12 top-selling brands of vanilla extract—both fake and pure—into milk and pudding before trying a few choices in cake and cookies. In some tests, the choice of vanilla extract made a big difference, but in other recipes testers were stumped.
Watch this video to learn when real vanilla really matters, or read the full comparison on America's Test Kitchen (free registration required).