Imitation coconut extract adds a tropical flair to a variety of items, including cakes, ice cream and cocktails. Imitation coconut extract is easier to find and less expensive than pure coconut extract and will keep for about four years in a cool, dark pantry. Like imitation vanilla, imitation coconut extract adds a strong flavor to foods, so use it sparingly.
Imitation coconut extract contains water, alcohol, propylene glycol and a proprietary mixture of artificial flavors. Real coconut extract also contains water and alcohol, but it derives its flavor from real coconut.
Like imitation vanilla extract, imitation coconut extract has fans and detractors. Some cooks claim to be able to tell the difference between imitation and pure extracts, while others use them interchangeably. In a 2001 Cook's Illustrated flavor comparison of pure and imitation coconut extracts, one taster said that one brand of imitation extract had a distinctive artificial flavor reminiscent of suntan lotion.
Add a couple of teaspoons of imitation coconut extract to a white or yellow cake mix to liven up the flavor. Substitute imitation coconut extract for vanilla extract to add subtle flavor to a sugar cookie recipe. Stir a teaspoon of imitation coconut extract into a chocolate ice cream base just before you put it in the ice cream freezer. Add a few drops of imitation coconut extract to a rum-based cocktail if you're out of coconut rum.
If you're out of imitation coconut extract, add one to two drops of coconut oil to a teaspoon of orange or lemon extract. The resulting extract will have a citrus flavor in addition to a subtle coconut flavor.
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