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Discovering Nielsen Massey’s Vanilla Extracts

Published 1 April 2013

For confectionery lovers looking to try a few elegant new flavours, you certainly can’t go wrong with Nielsen-Massey’s range of vanillas and extracts in your recipes.

Established in 1907, Nielsen-Massey makes and distributes vanillas and flavours.

Those of you who like to do a bit of baking may want to experiment with this range, which includes vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, and other flavour extracts such as coffee and chocolate. Lakeland and most big brand supermarkets are now stocking them.

vanilla cupcakes

What’s important to note is that what Nielsen-Massey are selling is vanilla extract, rather than vanilla essence. So yes, it’s going to be more expensive, but if you’re a regular baker and want to ramp up the quality of your food, these extracts are going to give you a more natural-tasting flavour. Since these are flavours rather than foods in themselves, how you use them is up to you. The Nielsen-Massey website, however, has plenty of ideas – and a cookbook!

Invited along to the launch, I spent the evening in the appropriately named VANILLA bar in London, a niche little space with an interior that is a mash-up of space-age and diamond glamour. I was lucky enough to sample a couple of cupcakes made with the Nielsen-Massey extracts. The cakes made with the Orange Blossom water and the Rose water flavours in particular had a delicate, fragrant taste which reminded me of lavender-flavoured confectionery (they are both from flowers, after all). Not only that, but they made for great drinks as well – yes, you can use them in cocktails: a delicious cosmopolitan and champagne respectively.

These extracts make for some great cakes (and nice alternatives to Hummingbird).

If you want to try some yourselves, why not go for classic vanilla?

Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Cupcake

vanilla cupcake 2 Preparation time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
200g Unsalted butter, softened
200g Golden caster sugar
1tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract or Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste
4 Medium eggs, lightly beaten
200g Self-raising flour
Vanilla sugar syrup, recipe as below

Vanilla sugar syrup recipe
Place 50g golden caster sugar in a pan with 4tbsp of water. Simmer for a few minutes until dissolved, then take off the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool stir in 1tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract.

Ingredients for the vanilla buttercream frosting:
200g Cream cheese
100g Unsalted butter, softened
600g Golden icing sugar
1tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas mark 4. Using either an electric mixer or mixing bowl and whisk, beat the butter and golden caster sugar together until pale and fluffy, then whisk in the vanilla extract or bean paste. Reduce the whisk speed and slowly add the eggs, along with a tbsp of the flour to prevent it from curdling.
  2. Once combined, add the remaining flour. Using either a piping bag or ice-cream scoop, divide the batter between the cupcake cases and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Leave the cakes to cool a little on a wire rack then add some sugar syrup to the top of each one.
  3. Once completely cooled, remover from the tins. To ice, put the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and golden icing sugar in a mixing bowl and slowly mix together until light and fluffy. Place in a piping bag and ice accordingly.