Halloween and sweets go hand in hand, especially for trick or treaters, but at the same time, we’re coming into a season better known for its spices as we start the final countdown to Christmas.
So it’s no surprise that the flavour and fragrance ingredients most closely connected with the autumn months – and especially with Halloween fragrances – are often sweet too.
Here are some of the key seasonal fragrance ingredients and Halloween flavour ingredients that help put an autumnal touch into edible and aromatic products of all kinds.
Citronella has some spooky credentials that make it a good addition to Halloween fragranced products such as scented candles.
It’s widely believed to deter spiders – although how effective it is for this is debatable – and is certainly not loved by the feline population, so it should keep those unlucky black cats away too.
This, along with its general insect-deterring properties, makes citronella a popular aroma ingredient in scented candles for indoors and outside, and a kind way to keep the bugs away as the darker nights draw in.
Vanillin and ethyl vanillin are two aroma ingredients that add a vanilla scent to products while avoiding the challenges of the natural vanilla supply chain in 2018.
Of course vanilla is popular all year round, but you’ll find it teamed with scents inspired by fallen autumn leaves in room fragrances and light aromas of autumn nights in some perfumes, making both vanillin and ethyl vanillin versatile substitutes for the natural aroma ingredient.
It’s also a key ingredient in the toffee coating on toffee apples, one of the many deliciously sweet treats of the autumn months.
The infamous pumpkin spice of latte fame is not one flavour ingredient, but several – a blend similar to the mixed spice commonly used in baking and other sweet goods, which perfectly complements the sweetness of the milk in a latte.
In an October 2014 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, senior correspondent Carmen Drahl wrote about the rising popularity of pumpkin spice at the time.
She spoke to food chemist and Institute of Food Technologists spokesperson Kantha Shelke, who said that there are over 340 flavour compounds in a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove or allspice – but providing just 5-10% of those compounds using artificial flavour chemicals is enough for the human brain to “fill in the blanks”.
“Major players include cinnamic aldehydes for cinnamon, eugenol for clove or allspice, terpenes such as sabinene for nutmeg, and zingiberene for ginger,” she added.
Finally, you can’t have Halloween without Bonfire Night, and the bittersweet treat that is molasses-rich bonfire toffee.
Its unique bitter character comes from the molasses – rather than being made purely from sugar – as part of a recipe that also includes butter, a smaller quantity of sugar, and sometimes the bitterness of white vinegar too.
Like other toffees and fudges, bonfire toffee is a versatile base for other flavour ingredients, and you’ll often find it accented with flavours of almond, the sharpness of lemon, or a spicy hint of peppermint or cayenne pepper.