L.C. Finns Local Extracts: Spice Up Your Holiday Baking!

L.C. Finns flavor extracts

The idea for L.C. Finns extracts happened, as many great ideas do, over beer. Chad Gillard and a foodie friend, Lee Zwiefelhofer, were talking about what food-related items they wished were available. Both are dads of small kids, and Chad was looking to start making an item that wouldn't require such intense weekend hours as he was used to at Mill City Farmers market, where he sold his popular Danish apple dumplings, Aunt Else's Aebleskiver. Chad and Lee came up with an idea for locally made flavor extracts made from top-quality ingredients.

There are currently six L.C. Finns extracts: vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, hisbiscus, anise, and cardamom. These lend themselves perfectly to a range of holiday baked goods and cocktails. The recipes on their website include pear-cardamom bread, ginger vinaigrette, hibiscus leg of lamb, rice pudding, and cookies. As I considered which holiday treats to savor and share, both at the holiday table and beyond, I got more and more excited by this variety of concentrated flavor that I could play with, like a mad scientist in the kitchen.

I'm thrilled to be able to use these at home in my own kitchen, but these flavors are around town, too. Poor Boy caramels, Bliss granola and Chowgirls Catering all use L.C. Finns extracts in some of their baked goods. Most recently, L.C. Finns was a sponsor of The Baker's Dozen Gluten-Free Bake Off.


L.C. Finns has the L for Lee, C for Chad, and Finns for Finnegan's, which they happened to be drinking when they came up with the idea, and whose ethical business model they admire. Finnegan's is a local beer that donates all profits to alleviate hunger. In that spirit, a portion of each sale of L.C. Finns extracts goes to a scholarship for a new food business entrepreneur to be trained at Kindred Kitchen, a food business incubator in North Minneapolis that provides food business entrepreneurs with tools and resources to launch, grow, and stabilize their business.


Zwiefelhofer is the chief extractor, and does most of the research and development on flavors. The extracts contain locally made Phillips vodka, while the raw ingredients for flavor, most of which are organic, come from local suppliers Frontier and Bergin. Gillard works on distribution and marketing. He is also part of Midwest Pantry, a local company that helps connect buyers to artisan food producers like Sweet Jules caramels  and Bliss granola. You can buy the extracts at Cook's of Crocus Hill, Annona Gourmet, Byerly's, Ferndale Market, Golden Fig, Local D'lish, The Oilerie, and Bloomer Floral and Gift Shop in Wisconsin.


Here are the two recipes I made to showcase these local extracts. I'm also looking forward to using the extracts in my favorite holiday recipe, Impossible Pumpkin Pie, as well as in the whipped cream to top it. Decisions, decisions: vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, or cardamom whipped cream?





Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Pepitas and Chocolate Chips

Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang and Christie Matheson
Makes 12 muffins*


The original recipe calls for candied pepitas, which need to dry overnight. I found the overnight aspect fussy, and instead added a few chocolate chips for sweetness to the pepitas for crunch. But this may be because I think most baked goods are improved with chocolate chips. Your chocolate tolerance (ahem, addiction) may vary.




6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
2 eggs
6 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon L.C. Finns cinnamon extract
1/4 teaspoon L.C. Finns ginger extract
1/8 teaspoon L.C. Finns cardamom extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) toasted


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time**, beating well after each addition to combine the eggs and butter-sugar mixture thoroughly. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once more. On low speed, add the orange juice and pumpkin and beat until combined. The mixture will look somewhat curdled.

4. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. Dump the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and fold carefully just until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined.

5. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups***, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle the tops with a few chocolate chips and toasted pepitas.

7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to cool completely.****

*Chang's original recipe produced 12 regular muffins and 24 mini muffins when I made it; I've halved her ingredient amounts here to produce just 12 regular sized muffins.

**I crack my eggs one at a time onto a saucer to make sure no shell goes in with them. I scoop out shell bits with a "cup" of broken eggshell, then slide the eggs into the bowl.


***I use an ice-cream scoop.


****I use a plastic, Play-Doh knife to get my muffins out without scratching the pan.









Anise Biscotti with Chocolate Chips

Adapted from Food52

Makes 25-30

This unconventional biscotti recipe makes a loose dough that's baked in a pan rather than a firm dough baked in logs on a cookie sheet. I'm used to making biscotti the traditional way, so figured I'd give this a try. It produces a more delicate, less dense cookie that's more uniformly shaped and sized.




4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon anise extract

3 Tablespoons brandy

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup chocolate chips  



Biscotti in a pan? Yes!Biscotti in a pan? Yes!

1. Line 13 x 9 x 2" baking pan with a foil sling, handles hanging off the shorter sides. Fold the top and bottom edges of the foil to fit the width of the pan, don't cut it, so it doesn't shred at the edges and get stuck in the biscotti. Grease foil. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.

4. Add oil. Mix well.

5. Combine brandy, vanilla, and anise extract. Add to batter.

6. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into batter.

7. Fold in chocolate chips by hand.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan.

9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden.

10. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes in pan.

11. Remove dough from pan with foil sling and place on cooling rack. Place cutting board on top of dough, flip over, lift off cooling rack, then peel off foil. Place cooling rack on top and flip again to let dough cool on rack.


12. Place cutting board atop dough, flip again so dough now rests on cutting board. Slice in half lengthwise, then slice each half horizontally into cookies, approx. 1/2 to 1 inch thick*.

13. Arrange cookies onto baking sheet. Bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes.

14. Cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container.

*A serrated knife is recommended, but I find a bench cutter much faster, though the outside crumb is slightly less fine.




Kristin Boldon is an occasional contributor for Simple, Good, and Tasty. She also writes for the Eastside Food Cooperative's newsletter, Minnesota Monthly's food blog TC Taste , and her own blog Girl Detective. Her last post for us was Tremendous Treats: Finding the Fun in Halloween.