Vanilla in all it’s Glorious Forms

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Vanilla in all it’s Glorious Forms

By Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world, but chances are you’ve only used it in the form of that miraculous elixir—pure vanilla extract. Made from macerated vanilla beans, the extract infuses cakes, breads, sauces, and glazes with vanilla’s wonderful, aromatic essence. However, there are other ways to incorporate real vanilla flavor into your cooking and baking: vanilla beans and vanilla bean paste. Just like the well-known extract, these methods are easy and fast. But beyond delivering amazing taste, they show off the very source of the flavor—the precious seeds that hide inside the vanilla bean. Whether you use extract, beans, or paste, one thing’s for sure: For any dish that’s been laced with real vanilla, one bite is all you need to recognize its unmistakable botanical flavor.

Vanilla Beans
Sometimes referred to as a pod, vanilla beans must be cured, a process that takes more than 6 months. Cured vanilla beans are very dark brown or black and measure 4 to 8 inches long by about ¼ inch wide. When buying vanilla beans, make sure that they are plump, moist, and flexible with a slightly sticky feel. The thousands of seeds within each vanilla bean are miniscule but simple to get out. Start by placing the bean on a cutting surface. Using a small, sharp knife, cut the bean in half lengthwise down the center. Once the bean is split, scrape the seeds out of the bean using the knife blade.

Vanilla Bean Paste
Simple to use, vanilla bean paste is a suspension of thousands of natural vanilla bean seeds in a paste that has the consistency of syrup. In recipes that call for vanilla extract, you can substitute the same amount of vanilla paste.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Makes 1 cup

1 cup vodka
2 to 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1. In a clean glass bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine vodka and vanilla beans. Seal and place in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months before use.

Very Vanilla Salt
Makes 1 cup

This aromatic salt will be a welcome addition to fish, scallops, and vegetables, or even sprinkle it on freshly baked cookies for a salty-sweet taste. To make the salt even more fragrant, add scraped-out vanilla bean pods after processing.

1 cup sea salt
1½ tablespoons vanilla bean paste

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine sea salt and vanilla bean paste; process until well combined. Place mixture in an airtight container. If salt starts to clump, stir with a fork until it flows freely again.

Vanilla Bean Crêpes with Vanilla Mascarpone Filling
Makes 1 dozen crêpes

2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar, divided
3 vanilla beans*, split lengthwise and divided
2 eggs
1½ cups milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Garnish: whipped cream, fresh raspberries

1. In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese and ¼ cup brown sugar. Scrape seeds from 2 vanilla beans into mascarpone mixture; beat at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. In the container of a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Scrape seeds from remaining vanilla bean into egg mixture. Process until mixture is very smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Refrigerate batter for 1 hour.
3. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Pour about ¼ cup batter into skillet, and quickly swirl to coat bottom of
skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until edges start to crisp and brown. Loosen crêpe with a spatula, and carefully turn over; cook for 30 seconds longer. Repeat procedure with remaining batter, stacking crêpes on a plate. Cover with a damp paper towel until ready to assemble.
4. Spread about 3 tablespoons mascarpone filling over each crêpe. Fold each crêpe in half twice to form a wedge. Serve with whipped cream and raspberries, if desired.
*You can substitute 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste, divided, for the 3 vanilla beans. Use 1½ tablespoons vanilla bean paste in mascarpone mixture and ½ tablespoon vanilla bean paste in crêpe batter.

Vanilla Bean Brioche with Vanilla-Honey Butter
Makes 1 loaf and ½ cup butter

A long, slow overnight rise makes this bread perfect for a weekend brunch. Mix up the dough the night before. The following morning, begin with step 5 to finish bread.

3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and divided
½ cup milk
1 (¼-ounce) package active dry yeast
3 eggs, divided
3¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon Very Vanilla Salt (recipe on page 61) or sea salt
1½ cups unsalted butter, softened and divided
1 tablespoon milk or water
2 tablespoons honey

1. Scrape seeds from 2 vanilla beans into milk; heat to 110°. Add yeast; let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Lightly beat 2 eggs; stir into milk mixture.
2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, stir together 3½ cups flour, sugar, and salt. Using the dough hook attachment, gradually add yeast mixture, beating at medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).
3. Cut 1 cup butter into small pieces; gradually add to dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until combined after each addition (dough will be quite sticky). If needed, gradually add just enough remaining flour to make a smooth, sticky dough.
4. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease top; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 12 hours.
5. Divide dough into 6 equal portions, and form each into a 4½-inch cylinder. Arrange dough pieces crosswise in a 9x5-inch loaf pan; cover and let rise 2 hours.
6. Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk together remaining egg and 1 tablespoon milk or water. Lightly brush over dough.
7. Bake bread for 25 minutes. Tent bread loosely with aluminum foil, and rotate in oven. Bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.
8. In a medium bowl, combine honey and remaining ½ cup butter. Scrape seeds from remaining vanilla bean into butter mixture. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until well combined and fluffy. Serve with brioche.

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Vanilla Bean Glaze
Makes 6 to 8 servings

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste*
3 apricots, each cut into 8 pieces
2 nectarines, each cut into 12 pieces
12 cherries, halved

1. Soak 18 (6-inch) wooden skewers in water to cover for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.
2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350° to 400°).
3. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla bean paste. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is translucent.
4. Place 4 pieces of fruit on each skewer. Fruit will cook more evenly if only one kind is used on each skewer. Lightly brush each skewer with glaze, reserving remaining glaze. Grill skewers 2 to 3 minutes, turning after 1 minute. Brush skewers again with remaining glaze; serve immediately.
*We tested with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.

Vanilla and Peppercorn-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce
Makes 2 to 3 servings

Have your butcher french your rack of lamb. This means that the excess fat has been trimmed, and the meat has been scraped down to expose the ribs.

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste*
¾ teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns or multicolored peppercorn blend
½ teaspoon Very Vanilla Salt (recipe on page 61) or sea salt
1 (8-ounce) frenched rack of lamb
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces and divided
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1½ cups chardonnay or other dry white wine
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1. In a small bowl, combine thyme, vanilla bean paste, crushed peppercorns, and salt. Rub mixture over lamb, and refrigerate, tightly covered, for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350° to 400°). Grill lamb 7 minutes per side or until desired degree of doneness.
3. In a large skillet, melt 2 teaspoons butter over medium-high heat. Add shallot, and cook until shallot just begins to brown. Add wine, and scrape seeds from vanilla beans into pan; cook until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup. Remove pan from heat, and whisk in remaining butter, one piece at a time, until butter is fully incorporated and sauce has thickened. Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve, and serve immediately with lamb.
* We tested with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Icebox Dessert
Makes 10 servings

2 (14-ounce) containers vanilla ice cream, softened and divided
1 cup Vanilla Bean Caramel (recipe follows)
Garnish: fresh mint, Vanilla Bean Caramel

1. Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spread 1 container of ice cream in bottom of pan. Spoon 1 cup caramel over ice cream. Top with remaining
container of ice cream. Cover tightly, and freeze until firm. Cut into slices, and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh mint and a drizzle of caramel,
if desired.

Vanilla Bean Caramel
Makes 3½ cups

This sauce is wonderful drizzled over ice cream, stirred into coffee, or used in our icebox dessert.

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*
¼cup heavy whipping cream

1. In the top of a double boiler, combine sweetened condensed milk and vanilla bean paste. Place over simmering water, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours or until color deepens to a golden caramel. Remove from heat, and stir in cream. Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
*We tested with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla
Bean Paste.

“When y’all are finished scraping the seeds out of the vanilla beans, stick the empty beans right into your canister of sugar. Over time, the sugar will soak up a heavenly vanilla aroma.”–Paula

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Photography by Kamin Williams Food Styling by Elizabeth Nelson Styling by Renee Beaty

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Reader Comments:


I love vanilla beans, but they sure are too expensive. I have found vanilla bean paste to more economical. Linda

By Linda on May 14, 2012


What a shame that she neglected one of the most wonderful uses for vanilla beans! After I use a bean, such as for vanilla ice cream, and scrape the seeds out, I rinse and dry the bean pod. Once dried thorougly, I put it into my sugar container to make vanilla sugar. It's so much better that way for any use and costs nothing because the pods would just go in the garbage anyway. And if you buy vanilla sugar, it costs much more than regular sugar.

By Elaineartist on May 14, 2012


It's "Vanilla in all its glorious forms" not "Vanilla in all it's glorious forms". "It's" is a contraction of "it is", per the beginning of my first sentence.

By Michele Jedlicka on May 10, 2012


Hi Please advise if you now ship to Australia...there is lots of things I would like to order Cheers Kim

By Kim Adcock on May 07, 2012


Wow what is going on, haven't seen any comments in the ;last few newsletters. People stop commenting or what? Well pauls we still read your newsletters and watch your food shows. Love every tip you send our ways. Can;t wait to try some of your veg. pasya salads, when weather gets warmer sometimes we like more simply yet nutricous meals, and less meat dishes. You alweays make your viewers feel so much like we are right there in your home, and I for one so look forward to your tv. visits. Have a super Mom Day sweet lady- U so deserve all the attention u will get. Hugs Rosie in Ct.

By RoseMarie Herdman on May 04, 2012


Dear Paula, So sorry to hear of your diabetes. we will pray for your healing as my husband has this also the Dr. says. I do enjoy your show and your magazine and also your wonderful spirit. A test is an opportunity to have testamony. So keep up the good work for your love for cooking is an inspiration to millions of people. I enjoy using your receipes very much. Love and Prayers, Marlin Durham Bernie,Mo.

By Marlin Durham on May 02, 2012


do i scrape the seeds from the bean to make the vanilla extract? i brought beans back from tahiti and am anxious to use some of them. thanks. sandy

By sandy on May 01, 2012


For vanilla extract, do i remove seeds from pod?

By sandy on May 01, 2012


Your use of it's in this article's title is incorrect. IT'S is a contraction for IT IS. You should have ITS (not apostrophe), which is the possessive form of IT.

By Julie Peters on May 01, 2012


Nothing better than dishes with good vanilla. Esp. ice creams. Now that warmer days are here, I recall my growing up days and with my own chilldren, Altho I was raised in Okla. and Ozarks od Ark. I now live in Ct. but my southern dishes will always be with me. That is why i love your show so much and your boys cooking. You cook like my Mamma did and she was the best. Keep doing what u are doing. Bobbi we love your dishes on your show as well, so good to see your Mom endorsing what u do, hey it is still good food and she loves u for wanting to make her dishes so all can enjoy. So u just keep bringing on fun people like Trisha Yearwood and that young man from disney where u made the veg. pizza and did bunjee jump. u were just awesome paula. hugs Rosie in Ct.

By RoseMarie Herdman on May 01, 2012

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