Vanilla is anything but Vanilla

Vanilla. One of the finest of the flavors. Ironically also a term used on occasion to describe a lack of style, creativity, or taste. I think vanilla is similar to a fine wine - complex and fantastic. Sure, imitation vanilla has its place and can get the job done, but when you want authentic vanilla highlights you have a wide variety of options.

Vanilla Basics
  • Vanilla bean -- Best used to add flavor to desserts and drinks. The bean has a stronger flavor than the liquid.
     
  • Vanilla liquid -- Vanilla extract is usually blended and mixed into a dish and then baked. This has a strong flavor and is used in small amounts.
     
  • Vanilla paste -- A concentrated and convenient form of the bean, used to add vanilla flavor.
Vanilla Flavors
Yep, there is more than one vanilla flavor. Vanilla beans come from four regions:
  • Madagascar Bourbon~has a creamy sweet and rich flavor with a sweet buttery aroma. 80% of the world's vanilla crop is this type and considered the best quality. Ideal for baking, drinks and desserts.
     
  • Indonesian~is sweet with a smoky/woody flavor. For richer desserts that call for chocolate or caramel.
     
  • Mexican~is the original home for the vanilla bean. It has a creamy, sweet flavor with a hint of nutmeg and cloves. Perfect for baked goods.
     
  • Tahitian~has an aroma that is floral with tones of ripe fruit. The flavor is rich of chocolate, licorice and caramel.

    Quick Tip: To use a vanilla bean, cut off the tip of each end. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise. Now that the bean is cut into halves hold your knife perpendicular to the bean and scrape.
     

Vanilla Uses
Can be the stand alone flavor for many recipes such as ice cream, custard and creme brulee. When that is the case using pure vanilla, in any of its forms is highly recommended.
 
A baking essential. Vanilla supports, balances, mellows and gives depth to dishes.
 
A flavor enhancer for chocolate, coffee, nuts and fruit. Can be used to cut the acid bite in citrus fruits.
 
For more inspiration visit our Pinterest board, Tips and Techniques.