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How to Make Brownies Right!

 I want to make homemade brownies but don't have vanilla. What'll happen if I don't use it?

 If you don't use something you don't have? That doesn't seem like such a stretch to us. The real miracle would be if you did use something you don't have – very loaves and fishesy!

People don't use vanilla extract all the time. Most often, they just forget to get it out of the cupboard and go merrily on their way through the recipe as if they added every ingredient. Sometimes, as in your case, they thought they had three extra bottles in reserve and are shocked to find they have none.

You can turn out perfectly acceptable brownies without vanilla. They will not taste as "rich" or "complex" as they would if you included the vanilla. You and your fellow eaters might describe them as slightly bland, but you might not even notice unless you were doing a side-by-side comparison of brownies with vanilla and brownies without vanilla. (We assume Ochef readers do side-by-side taste comparisons all the time – often with blindfolds.)

Do you need to replace the teaspoonful of missing vanilla with water or brandy or some other liquid? Not really in a brownie recipe, but it also wouldn't hurt.

In that brownies are an entirely discretionary food – a treat, if you will – we would see if we could muster the self-discipline to wait on that batch of brownies until our next trip to the store, when we could be sure of producing completely wonderful brownies with all the recommended ingredients. (We might even think about walking to the store, so that we were sure we had earned those brownies!)

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