Alessandra Avanzi

Cooking with essential oils.

What does ylang ylang, orange blossom or rose essential oils taste like?

Do you know that about 70% of our taste comes from our nose? Our taste is basically nothing without our nose. 

In fact, have you ever noticed that when you catch a cold the food tastes different? Sometimes it does not even taste anymore?


Smelling yarrow - Iines Råmark

 The taste buds in our tongue recognize five main tastes :  bitter, sour, salty, sweet and umami. However, the nose is the magical organ that through the sense of smell allows us to capture all the nuances of foods’ flavors. Much of the sensation of taste is due to smell since humans can discern only a few tastes but recognize thousands of smells.

Why not use the sense of smell to cook?

New fragrances are arriving on our plates. Mint, basil, ylang-ylang, dill, orange ... in the form of essential oils. These concentrated and fragrant liquids are obtained by distilling plants (leaves, flowers, etc.) in a still.

Essential oils can flavor our savory and sweet preparations and enhance them ... are you curious to know more?

Essential oil: Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids obtained from plant material through steam distillation and named after the plant from which they are derived.

How to use essential oils in the kitchen?

First of all, it’s important to choose quality products. It’s better to privilege biological and certified essential oils. Here is a tip on how to choose a good quality oil. The bottle must have the following informations: common name (ex: bergamot), botanical name ( ex: citrus bergamia), certification bio , the chemotype ( ex: limonene, linalyl acetate), part of the plant used ( ex: peal).
Note that some essential oils are dangerous for health. So, before using any oil make sure that it is edible and verify that it is suitable for food use! You can check on the Food and Drug administration( FDA) , here a link with a list of edible oils : List of E.O .
If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding woman or a child it is better to avoid  them.

Essential oils are soluble in fatty substances and should be used sparingly, preferably cold.
They can not be diluted in water, essential oils must be mixed with a fatty (vegetable oil, egg yolk, sauce, cake batter, milk, etc.) or sweet (honey, syrup, etc.).
As strong in taste as they are in active molecules, essential oils are used very moderately, so be careful with your dose!!!!
In addition,  you can also use the hydrosol (perfume water coming from steam distillation) which is less strong than the essential oil.

Chocolate cake with Ylang- ylang essential oil (cananga odorata)

Time: 35 min total


-250 gr of dark chocolate

-4 eggs

-1oo gr of sugar

-100gr butter

-1 spoon of potato flour

-ylang-ylang essential oil


  1. Cook in bain-marie the butter and chocolate. Once melted, add the sugar. Let cool down and then add the egg yolks, the spoon of potato flour and 3 drops of Ylang-ylang essential oil, blend it.      
  2. Whip the egg whites in another bowl.
  3. Add the first mixt to the whipped egg, making slow movements, from bottom to top so as not to dismantle everything, until a creamy and homogeneous mixture is obtained
  4. Put it in the oven for 20-25 min at 180°c