How To Flavor With Vanilla

basket of vanilla beans - How To Flavor With Vanilla

Melipona bee pollinating a vanilla orchard

Image Credit: Athena Rayne Anderson 2008

Vanilla is a flavoring that is extracted from orchids, primarily from the flat-leaved vanilla Mexican species.

The first endeavors to propagate or grow the vanilla orchid outside of Mexico had shown to be in vain as this particular orchid has a synergetic alliance with its natural pollinator, the Melipona bee.

At least 40 species of this bee are known, and thrive in Mexico, as well as Argentina.

Other areas were the vanilla orchid is now successfully produced, such as in Tahiti and Madagascar among other places, is entirely dependent on artificial pollination.

The magazine – “Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution” states that the vanilla orchid is one of very few crops whose production depends entirely on artificial pollination.

How To Pollinate The Vanilla Orchid

This video provides details how to successfully pollinate the vanilla orchid that produces vanilla beans! This presentation was appropriated by the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.

Using Vanilla In Baking

When it comes to baking, vanilla is a very important ingredient, and there are 3 ways to use it…

  1. Vanilla Bean
  2. Vanilla Extract
  3. Vanilla Paste

Let’s examine the differences between these three and how to best use them in your baking.

Vanilla Beans

 Whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Whole Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans themselves provide wonderful flavor to any recipe that calls for it. The bean can cost between $7 to $13  for a small jar of two or three beans. They are a little time consuming to work with, but you will find the flavor they produce to be well worth the time.

You want to find vanilla beans that are plump and smooth with a slight shine and that are highly fragrant. Avoid overly dried beans. Using the vanilla in dessert recipes that call for it, gives the finished baked good an intense vanilla flavor that you might never want to go back to using another form of vanilla.

Be warned though, the bean can leave specks of brown throughout the baked good. To some this is great, but if you are baking a white cake, then employing the vanilla bean for such recipes may not work. That brings us to another form: vanilla extract.

Vanilla Extract

 

Vanilla extract is the common form used in baking.

To acquire the extract, the bean is mashed, and it is infused with a mixture of alcohol, a clear drinking alcohol is used, like Vodka.

Vanilla extract readily available, not only as pure, but also artificially made. The extract is simple to measure out and use in your baking.

Vanilla Paste

Pure Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste

Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla paste, though spendy (between $12 to $16 for a 4 ounce jar), is the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing between vanilla beans and vanilla extract.

Vanilla paste is the flesh of the pod scooped-out, and make available at market in small jars. So you are getting all of the flavor of the bean without all of the hassle. It will still provide those flecks of color in your baking like the actual bean does.

For vanilla paste, consult the jar to see how much to use in your recipes. It usually shows the conversions between vanilla extract and the paste.

When in doubt, gradually add to your baking, tasting after each addition to help you determine the right amount of vanilla flavor.

Which One To Use

Most recipes do call for vanilla extract but if you do decide to substitute the bean or paste for the extract, you can. One bean actually equals about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

The next time you bake, try using vanilla beans or paste instead of the more common vanilla extract. Of course, what you decide to use depends on your personal preference.

Link Here For A Selection Of Dessert Recipes From Splendid Recipes and More

What Others Are Reading:

National Gluten Free Baking Week

National Gluten Free Baking Week According to National Day Calendar, December 13th thru the 19th, it’s “Gluten Free (GF) Baking Week.

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, rye and barley and for some people that spells trouble.

Why Gluten Free Baking?

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread – Click Image For Recipe

GF baking is one that excludes any type of flour that has gluten, which is a particular protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.

Without becoming too technical or medical, wheat, rye and barley wreaks havoc on some, if not many individuals their digestive tract.

Gluten free baking doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite traditional desserts. It just means modifying your desserts by using gluten free flour choices.

Gluten Free Flour Options For Baking

Creative minds have discovered ways to bake with GF flours, and such flours can be found at your local market. Let’s examine in short what some of your choices are.

Bean Flours

Including garbanzo bean flour and romano bean flour, these flours are typically high in protein and have a distinct flavor. They are better suited for heartier recipes, such as breads.

Brown Rice Flour

This is a supplementary flour, and works great when blended with teff, buckwheat or sorghum flours. It is great for baking those sweet desserts.

Millet Flour

This is a light in color and a drier flour than most other gluten free flours. It is best when mixed with heartier flours, like Teff, Hemp, or almond flours.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting – Click Image For Recipe

 

Buckwheat Flour

Yes, it has wheat in the title, but this flour is related not to wheat but to the rhubarb plant. It has a distinct taste, which makes it best when combined with other, more bland flours.

This flour alternative for use in muffins, cakes and pancakes. In order to work well with the dough, adding a starch would help, like arrowroot, tapioca, or a nongmo cornstarch.

Sorghum Flour 

Made from sorghum, which is a relative of sugarcane. It’s tender and adds a mild sweetness, but is rarely used alone.

Coconut Flour

This flour lends a pleasant flavor to baked goods. Since coconut flour absorbs moisture more than other flours, it is suggested for recipes that have at least as much liquid as flour required in a recipe. Because this can be a tricky art, it’s suggested that as a beginner, you use recipes specifically designed for coconut flour.

Almond Flour

This is a great choice for baking. Using almond flour to a dessert recipe will add moistness, binding, a light almond flavor, and a good amount of density to cupcakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, breads, and cake recipes.

Keep in mind that any nut flour cannot be substituted in equal quantities for flour, because nut flours are more dense and very high in protein. They can be used to replace a portion of other GF flours, such as Oat Flour, being used in the recipe.

Buying Commercial Gluten Free Flour Choices

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread – Click Image For Recipe

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free is a fine blend using as its base garbanzo beans, potato starch, and tapioca, to name a few of the ingredients. See Bob speaking here about his flour choices, along with nutritional information, reviews, and GF recipes.

King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour

King Arthur Flour is a blend of white rice and whole grain brown rice flours, along with tapioca and potato starch. What’s great about this product is that ‘it’s multi-purpose’ and can therefore be used for both baking and cooking, cup-for-cup, the same as any gluten flour product.

Tips For Beginners Of Gluten-Free Baking

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake – Click Image For Recipe

Experiment, experiment and experiment. There is a learning curve when you first start with Gluten free baking, but once you get some practice and experience you will become an expert about what works and what dosen’t.

Stay with it and don’t get discouraged. There will be failed recipes because you have to learn which flour combinations work best, but it just takes practice and testing. It’s best to get guidance from recipe books or online guides when first trying your hand at gluten free baking.

Begin with simple baking recipes and learn the basics.

Try some of our gluten free dessert recipes by clicking on the images above that are accompanying this article, or by clicking the links below.

Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

What Others Are Reading:

National Cocoa Day With A Chocolate Tiramisu

National Cocoa DayA hot cup of cocoa is the same as a hot cup of chocolate. Today December 13th according to National Day Calendar, it is National  Cocoa Day. What a great month to have such a day, as the day are getting colder, and a cup of hot cocoa seems the hot beverage to recognize. Even more so, that it is a wintry windy and rainy morning outside at the moment.

National Day Calendar notes that in their research on this day, they were unable to find the creator of National Cocoa Day.

But hey, what a great excuse to make a Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or hot cocoa. If you enjoy the traditional tiramisu prepared with espresso, you’ll excite your taste buds with a chocolate tiramisu!

Here is what you will need to prepare your own Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Chocolate Tiramisu

1¾ cup heavy cream, divided

1  cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar

16 ounces mascarpone cheese

¼ tsp. Himalayan salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

24-30 lady fingers

2 cups prepared hot chocolate, strong, cooled to room temperature

With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream with sugar on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Mix in salt, vanilla, and mascarpone cheese until combined.

Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of the cream mixture into the bottoms of 6 – 10 to 12 ounce dessert glasses.

Break lady fingers into pieces first, so they fit, then dip in hot chocolate and place in a single layer over cream mixture. Pipe in some more cream mixture, repeating layers, ending with the cream mixture.

Top with a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder, and top with shaved dark chocolate or real chocolate sprinkles.

Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.

What Others Are Reading:

Pecan Buttermilk Banana Bread

Pecan Buttermilk Banana Bread

Many who are not vegan or not allergic to gluten, make there sweet breads with regular white flour. It can be bleached or unbleached. I thought I would change that and use 100% whole wheat flour in our featured recipe: Pecan Buttermilk Banana Bread.

Even though it’s made with 100% whole wheat, it won’t ruin the fun of enjoying this sweet treat. Besides whole wheat is a complex carbohydrate and wont spike your glucose, or cause a serge of energy to only fall fast 20 minutes later.

The inside has Almond Toffee Bits or better know as Heath Bars. The outside of the bread is bake coated with sugar, for that extra sweetness.

The sugar coats better, and doesn’t clump like flour or leave a floury film on the baked cake. Instead, it leaves a slight sweet coating on the bottom and sides. Avocado oil or olive oil can be replaced with butter, considered a healthier alternative.

extra ripe bananasWe also used over ripe bananas. when bananas go black and then some, they have a lot of natural sweetness.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the video and then enjoy preparing Pecan Buttermilk Banana Bread.

Pecan Buttermilk Banana Bread

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, unsalted, melted (1/2 cup oil or apple sauce to replace butter)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon or pie spice

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)

1 cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

½ cup almond toffee (or Heath Bars, about 4 crushed)

1 cup chopped pecans, divided

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Coat a 9×5 inch loaf pan with butter or olive oil and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

In a large mixing bowl blend together the eggs, buttermilk, butter and bananas.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a medium bowl. Add ½ cup pecans, almond toffee bits, and both sugars, mix in. Add flour mixture to banana mixture, mix till well incorporated.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle ½ cup pecans over batter. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

What Others are Saying About Banana Bread:

Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins

Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins

Another great cupcake recipe I found in the April 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

The muffins came out perfectly, so soft and moist! Dark chocolate and banana is a great flavor combination. You can bake this recipe into a dessert bread as well. Just pour the batter into a 9-inch bread pan and enjoy.

Dark cocoa according to Health News Library (HNL) has great health benefits, like potassium, copper, magnesium, and iron in high concentrations. You know what that means, right? Dark Chocolate is great for your heart and lowering high blood pressure.

HNL states, “The copper and potassium help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular disease. The iron protects against anemia, and magnesium helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease” (read more here: Dark Chocolate Helping with Health Concerns).

Now for the featured recipe: Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins and here is what you will need:

ingredients for Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup buttermilk (we forgot to add this to the cutting board)

½ cup sour cream

2 eggs

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 bananas, peeled

Honey for topping

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

 

Grease twelve 2 ½ -inch muffin cups; set aside.

Mixing dry and wet ingredients for Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins

 

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, coffee powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a 2-cup measure whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, and butter. Add all at once to flour mixture. Gently stir just until moistened.

 

bananas cut for topping Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins

Peel and trim ends from bananas and cut each into 6 pieces. You should do this before mixing dry ingredients in with the wet. Once the wet ingredients hits the dry portion, it activates the soda. As a rule of thumb, once you have mixed the wet and dry together, get it in the oven as soon as possible.

Next, spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full and press a banana piece into each prepared cupcake batter, but the banana should not be covered completely, only push in half way.

Now the next part says to drizzle with honey, then bake for 15 minutes. But it is not recommended to heat honey above 100 degrees, it kills the enzymes that benefit good health.

Ask A Scientist says, “Honey bees keep the temperature of their brood nest at just under 100 degrees. Many figure that honey should not be raised above this temperature to preserve many of its good qualities. If honey is heated above that, there is disagreement on what the temperature is at which the helpful enzymes are damaged. It is likely in the 120 to 140 range.”

They go on to say, “Honey distributed by large distributors and sold in larger stores is usually heated to 180 degrees.This is to dissolve even the smallest crystals that might act as “seeds” that promote crystallization. Although crystallization does not harm the honey in any way, it is considered less desirable (in the US but not necessarily abroad). The enzymes that are not visible are sacrificed for the sake of “good” looks.”

Here at Splendid Recipes and More, we use raw honey, in its whole form. To liquefy the honey: boil some water in a sauce pan. Place the amount of honey you want to liquefy into a small glass jar and dip the jar into the hot water. The honey will soften and become runny, but will not heat to above 100 degrees.

 

 

cooling Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins

Now bake the muffins for 15 minutes or until tops are firm, then remove and cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

 

 

Dark Cocoa Banana Muffins (end article)

 

Remove from muffin cups. Drizzle with honey and serve warm. Here we drizzled with raw honey. As a side note, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar dosen’t sweeten the muffins to well. But adding the honey will sweeten every bite. If you don’t wish to drizzle with honey, increase your dark brown sugar to add the sweetness you desire. Enjoy!!

 

What Others are Saying About Muffins with Bananas and Cocoa:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Fruity and Nutty Oatmeal with a Tweast

Fruity and Nutty Oatmeal with a Tweast

The FASEB Journal reported on  a randomized, controlled, crossover trial with 48 healthy individuals, around 18 years of age. The trail was done with oatmeal and  a ready-to-eat oat-based breakfast cereal (RTEC) in random order at least a week apart.

The results were: The oatmeal suppressed the appetite of the individuals partipating in the controlled trials , and increased fullness, and reduced food intake compared to RTEC.  Food intake at lunch was lower after eating oatmeal compared to RTEC.  The finding were noted that physicochemical properties of oat fiber are important factors affecting fullness and food intake. The study was funded by PepsiCo.

We wanted to share our breakfast with you, and with the information we just shared, you may have guessed it was oatmeal.

We all know from personal experience, oatmeal is filling. It is good for lowering blood cholesterol and controlling glucose levels among other health benefits. Of cource you really only get these benefits as long as the package oats you buy have no additives to them. Like Honey Nut Cherrios does. They make the claim it is good for your heart, but the addition of other chemicals really nullifies the claim.  Note the info graph we have here from the Health News Library

honey-nut-cheerios

Click Image to Enlarge for Better Reading

Whole food is really better for your health. That is how we prepared our Fruity and Nutty Oatmeal with a Tweast.

We used Half and Half for extra creaminess, blueberries, a banana, and the tweast is the sweetness by adding Ginger syrup.

Here is what you need.

ingredients for Fruity and Nutty Oatmeal with a Tweast

1 cup half and half

1 medium banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup quick oats

1 to 2 tsp. organic ginger syrup (purchased at Whole Foods Market)

Heat the half and half in a small sauce pan. Add a cut up banana, then the blueberries, followed by the pecans, and oats. Stir together until well incorporated. The cooked oatmeal will be lose. If you desire you can add more oats. Next add the ginger syrup. If you can’t get ginger syrup, replace with real maple syrup.  Spoon into a bowl and serve.

The banana adds potassium, and magnesium to your diet, great for heart health and lowering blood pressure. The blueberries fight against cancer, and premature aging. The ginger aids with digestion.

 

What Others are Saying About Oatmeal:

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Make Really Moist Banana Bread

Moist Banan Bread

Mash or puree the bananas? What type of dairy product should you use? How should you incorporate your ingredients? How ripe should the bananas get?  These are a few good questions in regards to making really good banana bread and a moist one at that. There are many places you could have gone for these answers, but you came here to our blog, Splendid Recipes. We want to answer those questions for you so you can have moist banana bread as well.

The bananas need to be extra ripe. See how black they are here in this image? They have been cut open to show you that the fruit in side is still good. The banana is no longer firm but more pliable to mash and there is more sugar at this stage of the fruits life. These bananas were bought at market with a little green in them and left in the fruit bowl for 5 weeks to get them this black and prepared for baking banana bread.

extra ripe bananas

Also using less vegetable oil, only ½ cup and adding ½ cup of Greek yogurt (full fat) will give you the moist bread that you want. Make sure your eggs are room temperature. This allows for the protein in the egg to separate better with the other cake ingredients, also making for moist bread. Always sift the dry ingredients allowing for no large air pockets. Large air pockets do not allow for moist bread. Do not over beat your wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients just before pouring batter into baking dish. Once the baking powder and soda hits something wet it starts to react. You want this reaction to happen as you put it into the oven and not before.

Follow these no fail tips and you will always have moist banana bread.

What Other’s are Saying about Banana Bread

Enhanced by Zemanta