I used to get confused between vanilla essence and extract ALL the time until I actually learnt what the difference precisely was. So I’m going to share with you exactly just what is the difference (if any) between the two…
Made from real vanilla pods, as the name suggests the vanilla flavour is extracted from the pods
Extract is generally more expensive because of the process
A stronger vanilla flavour in the extract
Manufactured using chemicals commercially
Essence is a thinner substance than extract
Is there a difference in the taste of a product between the two?
Technically yes. But this is due to the fact that the extract has a stronger flavour, so if you use the amount you would normally use for essence you will notice the difference in flavour.
So my advice is, unless you want a strong vanilla flavour if you are going to use extract when the recipe says essence (or vice versa) you may want to edit the amount you add. Because extract is about twice as strong in flavour you may want to try altering by half. For example, when replacing with essence use half as much again as the recipe states for extract, i.e. 1 teaspoon of extract = 1.5 teaspoons of essence.
Of course this is just a loosely calculated conversion and there are so many different brands of vanilla extract/essence and each will have a different formulation and flavour/strength to them. It is all down to personal preference, some people prefer a strong vanilla flavour, others just a hint.
Hope this has been handy!