Real vanilla extract doesn't come cheap. Depending on where you buy it, it can range from a little under a buck an ounce all the way up to several dollars. Add real vanilla beans into the mix and prices can climb even higher. But does more expensive vanilla make for better flavor? Tastier cookies and better vanilla ice cream? Where does artificial vanilla extract figure into it? We decided to find out.
'vanilla' on Serious Eats
With a golden tint that belies plenty of eggy richness, The Complete Nose to Tail piles on the yolks for a custard tart that relies on only nutmeg and vanilla to round out its flavor.
"Keep the scurvy at bay" is the single descriptive line The Complete Nose to Tail gives to this recipe. And it's not far off: being that a whole lemon is used in the making of the cake, you'll be soaking in the Vitamin C.
Though many pudding recipes do not include eggs, I like yolks in my vanilla pudding for a little extra richness and color, and for that "French vanilla" flavor.
I meant to make caramel ice cream. I did one thing right, though, adding a split vanilla bean to the sugar before setting it on the stove. Turns out, sugary toasted vanilla bean smells a lot like toasted marshmallow. And luckily for me, toasted vanilla goes just as well with roasted plums as caramel does.
Though I have a weakness for anything coming out of an Italian bakery case, I'll admit that sometimes the sprinkle-covered cookies can be dry, or, despite their coatings, not actually sweet enough. This recipe solves those problems, making them as tasty as they are fun to look at.
Clocking in at five dollars a pop or more, vanilla beans are undoubtedly expensive. But they add a complexity of flavor, a mix of sweet, floral, earthy, and spicy, that blows vanilla extract away. So if you are going to drop the cash for the good stuff, how should you use it? Here are 9 of our favorite ways.
The Mr. Softee truck is how I learned the phrase "bat out of hell." As in, "Max, don't run out there like a bat out of hell. It's just ice cream and I want to see you live to your 11th birthday." Sorry, Dad, but this isn't ice cream. This is Mr. Softee. It's bigger than me—it's bigger than both of us.
This isn't to say I don't enjoy innovation with my Oreos; I just prefer to do the innovating myself. After spending a recent afternoon dipping Oreos into a mug of milky coffee, and going through yet another caffeine and sugar high rant about how coffee and chocolate combined ARE THE BEST THING EVER, I decided to try the mix as ice cream. Well, first I took a nap. Then ice cream. Long story short: it's a keeper.
Like loose change lurking in couch cushions, half eaten boxes of Nilla Wafers populate our cupboards; buried treasure lost amid the Seven Cs (cookies, crackers, chocolate, cereal, candy, chips, and cola). No Pantry Pirate ever sets out to find Nilla Wafers, instead, Nilla Wafers reveal themselves with the time is right. Just as despair sets in, the weary snacker sets eyes on their golden shores.
This is one of the best ice creams to come out of my kitchen, and is on the short list for best vanilla ice cream I've had anywhere. It's a classic French vanilla: flavors of butter and custard slink into the honeyed, floral, caramel notes of vanilla bean. The texture is pure silk. The aftertaste lingers and lingers. As for the Scotch, consider it vanilla enhancement.
For pear lovers, this jam is a must. I made it last week and I simply cannot stop eating it—with a spoon, straight from the jar. It combines juicy, mildly floral Bartlett pears with the seeds of a vanilla bean and generous pour of brandy. Try it with a cheese plate, or use it to dress up slices of simple gingerbread or pound cake.
When I say ice cream, I mean the real deal: Ice cream that's rich, smooth and creamy on the spoon. Ice cream that melts slowly into a luscious, tongue-coating custard. The kind of badass ice cream that makes lesser people feel guilty for eating it. The kind of ice cream worth getting out of bed in the middle of the night for. I mean real ice cream. My goal this week: Keep the ice cream, lose the machine.
"Is there such a thing as milk-flavored ice cream?" With summer pie season around the corner, it's important to have the right vanilla ice cream for proper scoopage on top. We conducted a blind tasting with six readily available nationwide...