Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The New Year, Vanilla Recipes and A Vanilla Bean Giveaway

Hello 2011.

I don't know what the new year will bring me. 2010 brought me the greatest sadness I have ever known. It lingers still.

I am striving for peace, hope and a semblance of happiness in 2011. What are you striving for?

Now a word about Vanilla Beans.

No, I'm not talking about that shriveled up bean that you buy in the grocery store. You know the one I'm talking about. A single, lone bean sealed up in a glass bottle. You get it home, try to split it and scrape out the "caviar" and end up with a dried up lump of something.

I'm talking real, moist, fragrant Vanilla Beans from Madagascar. Specifically, beans from From The Field Trading Company. A fair trade vanilla bean import company.

"From the Field" offers gourmet, single-origin, equitably sourced Bourbon vanilla beans. They are a family-owned company based in Oakland, California and Madagascar. Their team is committed to equitable trade, community development, and organic cultivation.

Danny Hervol, a friend and head of the Madagascar field operation sent me a supply of From The Field vanilla beans to use, review and share. 

And use, review and (not so much sharing) I did! 

The beans arrived in an vacuum sealed bag and as soon as I opened the bag I knew these beans were special. The beans are fragrant, moist and plump, I couldn't wait to get started. 

So what does all this have to do with you? From The Field has graciously sent me an additional supply of vanilla beans to offer you, my readers. And I have graciously decided to share a few of my favorite recipes with you. I'm just nice that way. 

What do you have to do to receive your beans? Simply leave me a comment telling me what you would do with your own supply of fresh, organically grown vanilla beans. What you say? You don't have any recipes - okay - use some of mine at the end of this post and tell me which one sounds best to you. OR just say, "Hey Good Cook, I want some of those vanilla beans".. you get the picture. 

On Monday, January 10th. I'll pull three lucky names out of my oven mitt and voila! you will be receiving the most delicious, hand picked, plump, fragrant vanilla beans you've ever laid your hands on.  

What are you waiting for? 

These are a few of my favorite things:

Crème Brulee

1/2 gallon heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split
16 egg yolks

Heat cream to a boil with vanilla bean. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until light. Add cream to egg yolks and pour into 4 shallow or rimmed soup bowls. Bake in water bath at 300 degrees until firm. (approximately 35-40 minutes). Refrigerate for several hours. To serve, sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar evenly on top and place under broiler until brown.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved        
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Salted Caramel Frosting *recipe to follow

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 (12-well) muffin pans with paper liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until very light in color, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla seeds and continue beating until the mixture is airy, about 3 minutes.
Scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to medium speed, and add the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the milk (and vanilla extract, if you’re using it in place of seeds) and mix until combined (the mixture will look curdled, but it’s not). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low, add the reserved flour mixture, and mix until just combined, about 15 seconds.
Fill the muffin wells about halfway and bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Frosting:


1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.
Combine butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.
Turn mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until stiff, about 45 minutes, before using.


2 cups strong coffee
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups vodka
1 vanilla bean, cut into 4 pieces

Heat the coffee and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cool.
Add the vodka and the vanilla bean.
Place in a sealed jar (a mason jar if you have one).
Place in a cool dark cupboard for two to three weeks, giving the jar a shake every day or so.

White Russian:
1 ounce Kahlua
1 ounce vodka
Pour over ice. Add a tablespoon of heavy cream, stir. Yum.

For my vanilla scone recipe, go here. This is my go to recipe when I'm having tea, unexpected guests or just want something warm and sweet to cozy up to. 

A Cook's Notes: I am not affiliated with From the Field nor have I been paid for an endorsement of their product. I just happen to be a fan! To learn more about this eco-responsible company, join their email list, and meet the people behind the Bean go to http://www.ftftrading.com/ or click on From The Field
The site even has a short tutorial on how to scrape, use and store your beans.
(I put the empty, scraped pods in my canister of coffee and have vanilla scented coffee every morning; it's good to be me in the morning)

As always, Good Luck and Bon Appetite!


  1. Hi..haven't been on for a while..my year 2010 really left with a BANG and required all my energy and attention...So happy to see your recipies again..I would do the Kahlua..I have aold recipie for Kahlua cake and would love to make my very own Kahlua..to use with it...I wish you all the best in the coming new year..Marlene

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! I'd like to try making my own vanilla, vanilla sugar and a wonderful sounding pavlova I have a recipe for.

  3. My sister is trying to make her own vanilla extract. I think I would like to try that with these beautiful aromatics.

    Oh and Hey Good Cook, I want some of those vanilla beans!

    I wish you peace for 2011!

  4. Kahlua looks really great to me and it would be great using beans that are truly fresh. My email address is odie_langley@yahoo.com

  5. Oh Good Lord.........A real Vanilla Bean?! Really Real? I think I'm going to have a stroke right now. I'd probably share them with my mom because she'd be right there with me in the heaven of vanilla.

  6. Vanilla is my favorite flavor ....... in just about anything. Love your idea of putting the pods in your coffee canister, making use of all of the flavor. Scones, I would make scones. I love scones. I want some now. I will just go and make some then!!

  7. It is hard to type on my phone when I have drool on the screen! :)

    Megan has begging and pleading for "real" creme brûlée, I of course always head to your recipes first. Tried and true are always better then the alternative. I must say the cupcakes are calling me as well.

    Did pop my bubble though that my current vanilla is not holding it's own. Either way I will be trying the ones you recommend.

    Taco stoup at my house tonight!


  8. Oh wow -- nice vanilla beans for giveaway! Lady, you made my day. If I won, I'd then make my family's day and make my vanilla bean cake with vanilla bean glaze. It's repetitive, but their reviews give it five stars.

    Then I'd try those cupcakes of yours with the salted caramel frosting. I'd probably have to make those when everyone was gone so I could scarf them all down myself -- they sound that good!

  9. Oh, vanilla scones for sure. Or the cupcakes. Or the creme brulee. No, the scones. They are a great place to start. I suspect that using these wonderful vanilla beans would be quite a revelation in flavor.

  10. I have always looked at those jarred vanilla beans with deep skepticism.

  11. I do hope 2011 brings you joy.

    I would give the beans to my amature baking friend and have her make me something delicious!

  12. I always wanted to make creme brulee, these beans would give me the incentive. I hope this New Year brings peace and happiness to you and yours,

  13. First I would try all your recipes. They sound fabulous! Also, I would take some to the Montessori school my children attended. In upper elementary my daughter researched orchids, discovered that vanilla beans came from them, and made ice cream in class. But yes, it was from the little bean in a jar... On another note, your blog has touched me deeply. thank you for your honesty. ♥

  14. Crème brûlée, crème brûlée, crème brûlée! I just got back from a trip to Montreal where the patisseries are other worldly. Think Paris - very much the same. If I could, I'd spend a year in Montreal (or Paris, perhaps) just to hit every Patisserie in town. And then, I'd probably still miss a few.
    You've hit upon three of my favorite things, as well. And Salted Caramel Frosting, are you kidding? All I can say is: Merci beaucoup. I'm warming up my printer right now...

  15. I think I'd make some vanilla sugar and then have fun going on my whims with the extra beans!

  16. Good Cook, I want some of those beans! I'm sure I can find good uses - including some of your wonderful recipes... :-)

  17. Yes, me too! I would experiment. Try your kahlua and cupcakes. I also sometimes put some vanilla into a cup of hot milk - a change from hot chocolate in the evenings.
    God bless and hope 2011 brings us peace of mind and joy in our hearts.

  18. I know you'll never forget 2010, but I wish for you only good things in 2011, memories less painful and more joyful, and new beginnings for your family.
    For me, well, you know 2011 will be a special year! I love how you said "grandlittles!" I intend to strive to better myself - in my attitude, in my priorities, my health, my finances, in order to make myself the best grandmother my own "grandlittle" can wish for!
    Now, as for those vanilla beans...! I grew up knowing only McCormick Real Vanilla Extract, married Fred and resorted to NoNamo Brand Imitation Vanilla Flavoring, and am now using Mexican Real Vanilla, which my son brings every time he goes on a cruise. It's fabulous, and completely changes the taste of some recipes. If I had some of these Madagascar beans, I would start out with a shortcake recipe I developed using the Mexican vanilla, just for comparison, then I'd try that creme brulee. I've seen pictures, but never even tasted it and have been dying to for ages!

  19. I hope that 2011 brings you peace and happiness. (At least from my experience the great sadness will always be there but it can coexist at least at times with a form of peace and happiness.)

    Vanilla beans sound magical. I would try making your Vanilla Bean cupcakes.

    Hugs to you. Take care.

  20. I would love to try the cupcakes. But I would also share the beans with friends.

    May 2011 bring you peace, faith and love.

  21. I am striving for the same things as you in 2011.

    I pray this year holds nothing but delight and wonder for you my friend.

  22. I hope I'm not too late to jump in! I love vanilla! I have always told my kids that if you can't cook with real vanilla, don't cook:)


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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