Vanilla power!-A A +A
Pots and Pans
Friday, October 26, 2012
A VERY interesting orchid from the genus Vanilla that gave the culinary world a remarkable flavor especially to our baked goods and frozen desserts, Vanilla itself is a very well-known and well-loved item in everyone’s pantry.
I bet almost everyone who bakes would have at least a bottle of vanilla flavoring in their cupboards. This is like a standard item that we use endlessly in all our food preparations in baking, be it cakes, bars, brownies, cookies, pastry cream to chilled desserts like ice cream and pies.
It is also widely used in perfumes and aromatherapy oils or lotions.
Whether used as a flavoring or to enhance other flavorings, pure Vanilla was of Mexican origin primarily until it was successfully hand pollinated and transported to other parts of the world to be cultivated.
Other famous Vanilla comes from Madagascar and is sometimes known as Bourbon Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla from French Polynesia and West Indian Vanilla from the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America. In fact, we even have our own Bukidnon Vanilla being produced, but usually in its raw form, the vanilla pod which really gives out the best and intense aroma.
French Vanilla, on the other hand, is often used to designate strong vanilla flavor or aroma of a food product such as vanilla ice cream or vanilla custard flavor.
It is said to be the second most expensive spice after Saffron because growing the vanilla seeds is really labor intensive. That is why pure vanilla is quite costly. Nonetheless, we also have “artificial” or “imitation” vanilla, which is more often sold in stores and in much larger quantities.
Nothing, of course, can beat the real flavor of the real, pure vanilla.
Vanilla can be commercially found in three preparations: whole pod, powder and extract.
Whole pods are most potent and give a very intense flavor and aroma but is expensive.
Vanilla powder is available but not as much as the extract form.
Vanilla can be available in colorless form or somewhat dark in color. Make sure to use the right one so as not to affect the color of the baked goods.
So, what baked goodies have you prepared using vanilla? There is the basic chiffon cake of course, and the popular pound cakes.
We used it in almost all cookie preparations, be it chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies or sugar cookies. Custard creams would not smell good without vanilla.
It also brings out the best in breads, bread or rice puddings and cheesecakes.
Commercially prepared biscuits also use a lot of vanilla flavored cream in between. It is even used side by side with chocolate cream as filling.
In the United States, and maybe in other countries, plain could mean vanilla, especially in ice cream flavors. It is one of the most liked ice cream and probably because it can be paired with almost anything. Say, Chocolate cake or brownie a la mode? What about shakes? Vanilla ice cream can go a long way with other concoctions like drinks and even coffees!
Coffee is another enjoyed beverage and it has come of age with different flavors. Even the creamers come in different flavors.
What about tea? Ever heard of Vanilla tea? Possibilities are just endless. Who knows? Maybe in the near future we would have “vanilla-flavored” dishes, too! Or am I too late?
Vanilla Cupcake Recipe:
½ cup butter
2/3 cup Peotraco Caster Sugar
3 pcs eggs
1 tsp Pure Vanilla
1½ cup all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup evaporated milk
Cream butter with sugar. Add egg one at a time till fluffy. Add vanilla. Mix all the dry ingredients together and hand mix them alternately with milk.
Do not over mix. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 26, 2012.