Almond extract is a clear liquid used by cooks to add almond flavor to breads, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods. The extract is made from the oil of bitter almonds, a cousin of the sweet almonds that are normally eaten. A mixture is made from about 60% of the oil and 30% alcohol in the form of ethanol.
The extract is available in many forms in the baking or spice sections of most American supermarkets. Both "pure" and "imitation" almond extract can be found. Imitation almond extract is diluted with water instead of alcohol and does not taste or smell nearly as good as pure extract. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money to get the pure extract. Even pricier organic almond extract can also be found. Almond extract is also made in France from their almond oil called huile d'amande. This French extract is much stronger than the American version and can be purchased online or in specialty stores.
The strong, sweet smell of almond extract always reminds me of cherries. (yclept informs me:"cherries and almonds are distantly related. I think it's a non-poisonous (of course) cyanide compound that gives both their distinctive flavors.") The flavor is very warm and nutty. Almond extract is much more potent than vanilla extract and smaller volumes, generally no more than a teaspoon, are generally used in recipes. Four to eight times as much almond liquor such as amaretto can be used as a substitute for almond extract. One eighth as much pure bitter almond oil can also be a substitute.