This Aromatic Italian Extract Will Take Your Baked Goods To The Next Level

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Is there anything more reminiscent of autumn than the smell of a spice cake fresh out of the oven? Is there anything else that can bring to mind those vivid nostalgic memories of home and childhood than that first bite of a warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie? In these strange times, more and more people are returning to the age-old escape of home baking. In fact, sales of baking-related products jumped 24% in 2020 (via BakingBusiness), and traditional baked goods such as banana bread and cinnamon rolls rose to popularity in places like Vermont and Alaska in the past year (via The Huffington Post). 

In these trying times of rising costs and pandemic blues, there really is nothing like homemade baked goods to bring some comfort, be it a slice of warm freshly-baked bread with butter or a tray of gooey fudge brownies to remind you of simpler times.

Whether you're a master of your kitchen or just trying your hand at homemade baked goods for the first time, we all just really want to capture that elusive feeling of warmth and sentimentality that is at the heart of every loaf of bread or slice of cake or pie. And there is one secret ingredient (well, aside from love, of course) that can really bring those simple treats to another level of flavor and comfort. It can be found in a simple Italian extract known as the Flower of Sicily, or Fiori di Sicilia.

Fiori di Sicilia's unique flavor profile can really enhance baked goods

Just what exactly is Fiori di Sicilia? At first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking it's nothing more than the Italian version of vanilla extract — and in a way, you would be right. But what separates Fiori di Sicilia from your standard supermarket brand vanilla extract is a decadent and more potent flavor profile.

Described as being "so bewitching that [you] could wear it as perfume" (via Bon Appétit), Fiori di Sicilia has a complex palate of flavors. It first boasts a sweet tang of citrus, not so much the taste of orange juice but rather that light zest one would smell from the skin and pith of a freshly peeled orange or lemon. Underlining this bright citrus note is that creamy, smooth twinge of vanilla you'd expect, combined with a delicate floral tint that evokes a fresh floral shop.

And the great news is, it has so many uses in the kitchen. While Bon Appétit notes the extract is normally used in traditional Italian delicacies like panettone, they recommend trying it in brioche, babka, and cannoli. Bakers like Chef Iso recommend using Fiori di Sicilia in standard baked goods such as cookies and cakes, but also in pancakes and on top of ice cream to add a sweet, citrus flavor. It is suggested, however, that this flavoring is used sparingly as it is more potent than your average extract. 

If you want to try Fiori di Sicilia for yourself, it can be purchased from Amazon or King Arthur Baking, ranging from about $9 to $26.