Black gel food coloring is a MUST in my kitchen! It is so hard to achieve a true black color without adding a gallon of food coloring--and even then, you often end up with a dull gray instead. This Americolor gel is the best I've found--it's very intense, and will produce a deep black without the need to add a ton of additional coloring.
Pro tip: whenever possible, when trying to achieve a black color, I like to start with chocolate desserts. It's much easier to get to black when starting from brown, versus starting from white! So if chocolate frosting or chocolate cake works with the dessert you have in mind, I suggest starting with chocolate and adding black food coloring to that. You'll thank me for it!
Red Candy Melts are an easy way to make red candies at home. Red can be a very hard color to achieve with food coloring, so whenever possible I always recommend buying red candy coating or red fondant–it’s just much easier to get a true red without having to add a gallon of coloring! These wafers melt easily, have a pleasant taste, and are great for dipping and molding. Use them for making Valentine's Day Candies, Christmas Candies, or spooky Halloween candies!
This cream cheese flavoring is my secret weapon when it comes to making cream cheese buttercream! Adding cream cheese to frosting makes it softer, and sometimes I really want a stiff buttercream with a tangy cream cheese flavor. Introducing this flavoring extract! It's specially formulated for use in frostings, and a small amount will give your boring buttercream a great cream cheese flavor. It really allows you to have the best of both worlds!
Creamy Peanut Butter is one of my favorite baking ingredients! When I'm having a PB&J I'm all about that crunchy PB life, but for baking, creamy is tops. It's easy to mix into things, and if you want peanut chunks, you can add freshly chopped ones so you can control what size and how many peanuts are included.
This sweetened shredded coconut is perfect for making any coconut dessert! I like Baker's brand because the coconut is super-moist, and it's GREAT for macaroons. If you want a drier coconut, leave it out on a baking sheet for several hours to reduce some of the moisture before using it.
Coconut extract is an easy and fast way to add coconut flavor to any dessert! I love this Bakery Emulsion by LorAnn because the flavor does not disappear during the baking process, which sometimes happens with other extracts. This coconut flavor is fruity and tropical!
Peppermint Extract is an easy way to add great peppermint flavor to your desserts. Rather than a traditional alcohol-based extract, I actually prefer this Peppermint Bakery Emulsion from LorAnn. It can stand up to high heat, so the flavor doesn't evaporate during baking and it produces consistent results, every time. It's not JUST for baking, though--you can also use it in ganaches, candies, and other unbaked recipes.
Andes Creme De Menthe Thins add a delicious chocolate-mint flavor to any recipe! Chop them up and add them to brownies, cookies, or cakes, or melt them and use them as an ingredient in ganaches or frostings.
Citric Acid is an easy way to add tart flavor to your desserts! Just a pinch added to any fruit filling, candy, or frosting will give it a realistic tangy flavor. And if you want to make an actual SOUR flavor, add more than a pinch--the more citric acid you use, the more tartness your desserts will have.
Vanilla Bean Paste is a great way to add bold vanilla flavor to desserts. It's made with real vanilla seeds, and in addition to adding a strong vanilla flavor, the speckles of vanilla seeds also look beautiful. This paste is especially great in desserts where vanilla flavor should be the star--vanilla ice cream, pastry cream, and buttercream, for instance.
Morello Cherries are a great way to give your desserts cherry flavor! They're not too sweet and are delicious on their own, or use them on top of ice cream or yogurt. You can also use them as a cake, cupcake, or tart filling.
Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips are a great way to add peppermint flavor to any baked good! I love them in brownies, cookies, cakes, and much more! They have just enough mint flavor to make things festive and refreshing, without being overwhelming. They also add a wonderful crunchy texture.
Salted Caramel Sauce is a MUST-HAVE in my pantry, and this Trader Joe's version is by far my favorite! It has a deep, dark caramel taste, just the right amount of salt, and a wonderful thick texture that's perfect on ice cream, drizzled on cake, or used in baking! It's also free of a lot of processed ingredients commonly found in cheaper salted caramel sauces.
Cinnamon Chips are such a fun addition to cookies! They add the perfect amount of cinnamon flavor to oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies. I always try to stock up around the holidays, since they are sometimes a seasonal item in my grocery stores. Fortunately, you can always find them online!
White Chocolate Chips are a MUST for oatmeal-cranberry cookies...and so much more! Use them to add great white chocolate flavor to cakes, cookies, and other desserts. I always try to buy white chocolate chips with cocoa butter (instead of palm oil) so that they're REAL white chocolate. They also tend to melt better and have a better flavor.
Marzipan is a delicious almond-based paste that is used for covering cakes and making edible decorations. You can make small figures with it, just like you would with fondant--the only difference is that marzipan tastes much better!
Espresso powder is my favorite way to get a bold coffee flavor in desserts. Just add a spoonful or two to a liquid and give it a quick stir. It dissolves instantly, and adds a great coffee taste without bitterness or grittiness. It's great paired with chocolate, vanilla, and almond flavors!