Vanilla

Vanilla

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Vanilla beans can truly be called fragrant; their aroma is one of the most pleasant of all. The vanilla bean is actually the pod of a climbing orchid native to Central America, and was first brought to Europe from Mexico. The flavour of vanilla is available in the form of beans, natural vanilla extract and in tiny sachets of vanilla sugar. The essential flavouring of vanilla can be synthesised, and both imitation vanilla essence and sugar flavoured with imitation vanilla are to be found; neither of these, however, is a proper substitute for real vanilla. Vanilla finds its niche in the realm of desserts, and is also used as a flavouring for chocolate. In cakes, creams, custards, ice cream and sauces, vanilla is a vital ingredient. Poaching in a vanilla-flavoured syrup highlights the flavour of many fruits, especially apricots and pears. For custards and custard-based desserts, a piece of vanilla bean is left to infuse in the hot milk. This piece of vanilla bean may be washed, dried and re-used. Store it in a jar of sugar or caster sugar, where it will gradually impart its flavour to the sugar; this vanilla-flavoured sugar can be used whenever a vanilla flavour is called for. When a piece of vanilla bean is infused in milk or added to a syrup, it is inevitable that tiny black specks of vanilla will remain after the piece of vanilla bean is removed. It is not necessary to remove these; anyway, they show that real vanilla has been used.

Vanilla Sugar: The easiest way to make vanilla sugar is simply to put pieces of vanilla bean in a jar of sugar. A more strongly flavoured vanilla sugar can be made by blending a whole vanilla bean, cut into short sections, with 220 g sugar. Sieve before use. The flavour is even better if the blended mixture is left for a week or so before sieving. Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients

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