Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla Bean Paste

No, we are not embarking into the world of arts and crafts today. Not that I wouldn’t or couldn’t go that direction. Those who know me have seen the extent of my crafting addiction. When we have moved, and we have several times for my husband’s career, we have found that my collection of jewelry-making supplies is as vast as my kitchen gadgets. However, this time the paste I refer to is my secret to turning baked goods into something extra special.

(thankfully I have evolved from my modge podge days when I covered a dustbuster in floral tissue paper, not that that has anything to do with baked goods)

Vanilla Bean Paste Label
Vanilla Bean Paste Label

It was close to the holidays when I saw and purchased the dark mysterious jar at TJ Maxx in the home goods department where they have unique gourmet foods. I thought it might be fun to see how it differed from the usual vanilla extract for my holiday baking. As soon as I arrived home I opened it immediately. The aroma that bloomed from the jar made my mouth water.

Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla Bean Paste

The paste was thick like molasses and the color of rich maple syrup . When I scooped out a little with a spoon I was amazed and fascinated by all the tiny specks of vanilla seeds. Finally I tasted it. Wow, it actually tasted like Vanilla smells, gentle and sweet (imagine cream soda). Ding, ding, ding we have a winner!!! My mind started to whirl with possibilities.

Strawberry with Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla whipped cream
Strawberry with Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla Whipped Cream

At that point the hardest part was to decide what to make first. Starting simple, I went with a banana bread topped with a glaze of vanilla bean and St. Germain liqueur.  Those little specks of vanilla seeds really made it look fancified.  My second venture was my mother’s recipe for homemade syrup, a super-simple combo of brown sugar, water, and a touch of vanilla, simmered until thick. I was amazed at the pop of flavor the paste added to everything I put it in. Soon nothing sweet was safe; I even put a little into my coffee.

This has become one of my pantry staples. I may even be a bit of an addict. When we have to cut out so many foods due to allergies, it is always rewarding to find an ingredient that makes food taste special and look amazing.

H.

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