This month’s theme was Vanilla Dreams
and we were challenged to use the vanilla beans that we won from Beanilla in our dessert.
The twist this time from Dessert Wars was that we were required to use vanilla in three different ways in our dessert.
The April prize package includes:
Beanilla Sampler Pack of Vanilla Beans
Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake
1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes
Organic Valley $50 Gift Certificate
Organic Prairie $50 Gift Certificate
Theme Kitchen $50 Gift Certificate
BEKA Cookware Crepe Pan
Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs
At long last, two of the Foodie Girls’ favorite desserts come together.
I have always loved pound cake and the Foodie Daughter is obsessed with vanilla bean ice cream.
In this household, only a fool dares come between her and her vanilla bean ice cream. It’s just that serious. And while I love the richness and flavor of a good pound cake, I’m not quite that territorial. Just in case you are interested, pound cake got that name because older recipes called for a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs and a pound of flour. Now, that’s one heavy cake!
There are thousands of orchid species in the world and over a hundred thousand hybrids,
but Vanilla planifolia is the only orchid that produces food for humans. The vanilla bean, or pod, comes from the Vanilla orchid. There are over one hundred species of vanilla that are native to the tropics in Africa, Asia and the Americas. The Vanilla orchid grows as a vine that can reach more than 300 feet in its natural habitat.
Historically, workers would have to climb trees or cliff faces, risking serious injury or death in order to harvest the vanilla seed pods. Now, on commercial farms, the Vanilla orchids are grown over large frames in bright sunlight.
After harvest, the seed pods must be cured before they can be used. Curing can take up to nine months. First the seed pods are soaked in hot water before they are spread out on a blanket in the hot midday sun and left out to dry. At night they are rolled up in the blanket, causing the pods to sweat. This process is repeated every day for three to four months or until the pods are cured. This is a labor-intensive process, but this is what helps to develop the complex flavors in the vanilla. And now you know why your vanilla beans are so expensive.
Do yourself a favor and only get the good stuff – the real stuff when it comes to vanilla extract. The imitation vanilla extracts on the market may have been made from wood pulp or even from by products of the coal-mining industry. Yum! Only not.
And here’s a tip for you: once you have split that vanilla bean and extracted the precious seeds, don’t toss the empty bean away. Instead, get a container with a tight-fitting lid and place the bean in it. Then fill the container with granulated sugar. Close the container and mark the container “Vanilla Sugar”. Use this in recipes that require both vanilla and sugar (you can either skip the vanilla or add both to add extra vanilla flavor), and remember to add more sugar to the container each time you use the sugar.
First I made the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.*
I tweaked a recipe for vanilla ice cream that came with the ice cream maker for this Dessert Wars Challenge.
3 cups Half and Half
¾ cup vanilla sugar
Vanilla seeds from vanilla bean
*The freezer bowl must be placed in the freezer at least 24 hours prior to starting recipe.
Honey Vanilla Pound Cake.
For this I turned to an Ina Garten recipe.
The ingredients are:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at cool room temperature**
1 ¼ cups vanilla sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
Vanilla seeds from one vanilla bean
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
**Cool room temperature means that you have allowed the butter to sit out at room temperature for one hour.
Grease the bottom of a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Then grease and flour the pan.
Cream the butter and vanilla sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture is light.
Add the flour a little at time with the mixer running on low speed. Finish mixing it in with a spatula to avoid over mixing-the batter.