Thursday, August 25, 2016

Eat your drink: Vanilla-Infused Calisaya and Pomegranate

Got some time on your hands? Here is a culinary cocktail that is worth the wait. For this fun edible drink you’ll need two months, two hours, and two minutes of prep time to turn out a delicious happy hour drink. Patience, Grasshopper.

Step 1: Infuse a bottle of Calisaya with Tahitian Vanilla beans for a month. Simply split two vanilla beans lengthwise and drop them into the bottle and wait a month. You don’t even need to remove the vanilla beans from the Calisaya, just store the bottle in a cool, dry place.

Step 2: Pour the infused Calisaya over a glassful of pomegranate seeds, let sit for two hours. Here a great video on how to get those gorgeous pomegranate seeds out easily.

Step 3: Eat your drink!

Never heard of Calisaya? Me neither. Turns out the herbal liqueur is making a comeback in the cocktail world. Cinchona calisaya, a Peruvian shrub, found its way to Rome via missionaries in 1632. The Italians added it along with other barks, roots, and flowers to grain neutral spirit and seville orange extract to create the popular liqueur. After Prohibition, the classic Italian amaro disappeared from the U.S. market until Italian brothers Andrea and Mario Loreto started producing it in Oregon under the name Calisaya. Think Grand Marnier meets Nonino Amaro.

You can thank Los Angeles bartender extraordinaire (and one of our amazing customers!) Matthew Biancaniello for this delicious concoction. Get his fascinating and beautifully photographed new book “Eat your Drink, Culinary Cocktails” for more creative drink recipes. 

But wait, there’s more! 
Sample one of Matthew’s cocktails made with Vanilla From Tahiti at Omnivore Books in San Francisco August 8 where he will be signing books. While you’re there, the first 45 people will receive a free gift bag containing a Tahitian vanilla bean and more. 

Bake With Love. Vanilla From Tahiti.

Friday, July 8, 2016

How to choose and store vanilla extract

In this post we discuss how to choose and store 100% pure vanilla, not just Tahitian vanilla, but any type of vanilla. If you want to learn about the differences between Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla, Mexican vanilla, and Tahitian vanilla, click here.

So you’re in the market for pure vanilla extract to flavor your cookies and cakes, or perhaps a savory dish like Tahitian Vanilla Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Coconut Risotto and Vanilla Bean Buerre Blanc. You’re perusing the offerings at the grocery store and notice the price of pure vanilla extract is quite a bit higher, up to 200 times the price of artificial or imitation vanilla flavoring. What gives? After saffron, pure vanilla is the most expensive thing you can use to flavor food. Why is that? Because it literally takes years to grow, pollinate, harvest, and cure premium vanilla. And most of that hard work is done by hand. So enterprising business folk can usually find a cheaper way to produce something similar. Similar, is the operative word, but not exactly pure.

What to look for on the label when choosing pure vanilla extract
Vanilla is vanilla is vanilla, right? Wrong. Some extracts have more or less alcohol, or sugar, or additives that may or may not be natural. You can learn a lot from the information on the label. Pure vanilla extract must be labelled as such. Here is what to look for:
  • Make sure the vanilla extract has at least 35% alcohol, minimum. More alcohol content results in a smoother, richer flavor. 
  • Check for unnecessary additives (such as sugar), preservatives, or coloring. Pure vanilla extract will have no additives, or preservatives, and will be be amber in color. 
  • If possible, smell the extract. The best quality products will have a rich, perfumed aroma. 
Any vanilla extract that is NOT 100% pure will be labeled with one of the following:
  • vanilla flavor – derived from synthetic substances 
  • natural vanilla flavor – derived from natural flavors other than the vanilla bean
  • imitation vanilla – derived from synthetic substances
  • artificial vanillin* – derived from wood, a paper industry byproduct
  • natural vanillin* – derived from natural substances, not necessarily the vanilla bean
  • ethyl vanillin* – derived from a coal tar derivative
  • coumarin – derived from the tonka bean and toxic in large quantities, often found in very cheap Mexican vanilla

So now you know what to look for. The warning of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) really comes in handy when choosing pure vanilla. You may be surprised to know there is quite a difference between brands. Consider testing a few brands side-by-side to learn the differences, as well as your personal preferences. 
Take out the magnifying glass and read the small type on the label to make sure you are getting 100% pure, unadulterated, real, natural, vanilla extract.

If want to be absolutely sure what is in your extract, and you’re the do-it-yourself type, it’s easy to make your own Tahitian vanilla extract. All you need is natural vanilla beans, alcohol, and time. Keep those few ingredients in mind as you read the labels.

Storing vanilla
Vanilla extract, beans, powder, and paste should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place. Avoid extreme temperatures, and moist, humid, warm places. Vanilla extract actually improves with age. When stored properly, vanilla extract will last indefinitely.

General starting point equivalencies for Vanilla From Tahiti:
1 tbsp extract (1X) = 1 vanilla bean = 1⁄2 tbsp ground powder = 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (3X).

Buy 100% pure Vanilla From Tahiti online.

*Vanillin, the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean, is an organic compound. Vanillin is only one of hundreds of natural flavor compounds and substances that flavor vanilla beans. In our humble opinion, vanillin compromises the flavor, aroma, and health benefits of baked goods.

Bake With Love. Vanilla From Tahiti.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tahitian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream cone

Now that summer is unofficially upon us, the warm days call for cooling off with ice cream...preferably, homemade Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream! There are many recipes for vanilla bean ice cream online, but our all-time favorite is by acclaimed pastry chef and cookbook author, David Lebovitz. Check it out here

Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream in bowl
If you’re looking for an ice cream recipe with more than vanilla, take a gander at our Pinterest board for ideas. 

Now that you’ve made vanilla bean ice cream, what to do with the spent vanilla bean pod, you ask? Scraped vanilla beans can be rinsed, dried, and stored in a jar of sugar where the flavor of vanilla will infuse the sugar. Vanilla sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making. Here are 15 more ideas for what to do with spent vanilla bean pods.

Get premium Tahitian vanilla beans online now.

Bake with Love. Bake with Vanilla From Tahiti.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tahitian Vanilla Black Tea

Not in the mood for coffee but still crave a little pick-me-up? Try delicious black tea flavored with Tahitian vanilla.

Black tea has caffeine as well as antioxidants that may help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, among other benefits. The names Darjeeling, Ceylon, and Assam evoke the exotic locations where some of the best black teas are sourced. Both black and green tea start out as Camellia Sinesis, but black tea takes the process a step further by being oxidized, resulting in a change in flavor, aroma and color. If you want to learn more about flavor profiles, history and more, here is an excellent primer on black tea.

There are a couple ways to add the intoxicating cherry, chocolate and floral aromas and flavors of Tahitian vanilla to your tea. For those of us who are into instant gratification, simply add a little vanilla extract, powder, or paste to your cup after steeping the tea. Start with a quarter of a teaspoon and adjust from there. Remember, a little goes a long way, so you don't need to add much.

Alternatively, if you have the time and inclination, you can add an inch-long piece of vanilla bean directly to your stash of tea leaves for a week or so. Here are detailed instructions to infuse tea with Tahitian vanilla.

Where do you find top quality Tahitian vanilla products? Glad you asked. Click the links below to purchase online now:

Tahitian vanilla beans

Tahitian vanilla extract

Tahitian vanilla powder

NEW! Tahitian vanilla bean paste

Can't decide? Try a Tahitian vanilla sampler of 2 beans, 2 oz of extract and 7g of ground powder in one convenient package. 

Check out our Pinterest boards for recipe ideas.

Bake With Love. Bake with Vanilla From Tahiti.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Which is the best vanilla?

People often ask Which is the best vanilla? Well—as the answer so often is—it depends.

The short answer is that there isn’t any such thing as the best vanilla. They are simply different. It’s kind of like asking which is the best music. Is rock and roll better than the blues or classical music? It depends on the situation and what you’re in the mood to listen to. When it comes to vanilla, it depends on which flavor profile you prefer for a particular outcome. 

If you’re looking for a highly aromatic and floral vanilla with fruity flavors of cherry, anise, and chocolate, then Tahitian vanilla is your best option. The big beans are plump and pliable. The flavor is delicate, nuanced and complex. 

Mexican vanilla yields smooth, deep, dark and rich smoky flavors. Avoid cheap Mexican vanilla, as it may be extended with coumarin, a toxic substance that has a similar smell and taste. If the cost is too good to be true, it probably isn’t real vanilla. 

When you think of plain vanilla (which is anything but), you are most probably thinking of Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla with moderate floral tones and a simple, uncomplicated flavor. 

So there you have it. How do you want to use vanilla today?

P.S. We’ve recently added Tahitian vanilla paste to our product line. 

Bake with Love. Bake with Vanilla From Tahiti. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

All About Ground Tahitian Vanilla Bean Powder

When I inhale the intoxicating fragrance of vanilla I am instantly transported back in time to my grandmother’s kitchen when I helped her make cookies as a child. When my parents weren’t looking she would slip me a little bite of cookie dough. It was our little secret. When you catch a whiff of vanilla, what memories are awakened in you? I hope they are pleasant ones filled with love, like mine.

Vanilla is one of the most recognizable and popular flavorings in the world. Our Tahitian Vanilla can be found in a variety of forms: the whole bean, extract, powder, and paste. We are going to explore the least known form, ground vanilla bean powder. Remember, vanilla is the salt of the baking world. Where salt is used to bring out essential savory flavors, vanilla enhances natural sweetness.

What is ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder? Glad you asked! There are two types, the first is pure vanilla beans that have been dried and ground to a powder (like ours). The second is dried and ground beans that have added sugar (sucrose, dextrose, or maltodextrin. etc.) and possibly other additives (silicon dioxide, cornstarch, evaporated cane juice, silica, cellulose and the like). Our Ground Tahitian Vanilla Powder is made of pristine, freeze-dried Tahitian beans that have been ground to a fine powder. That is all! There are no additives or fillers of any kind whatsoever in our powder.

When to use ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder. Many baking recipes call for a mixture of dry ingredients that are added to wet ingredients. Use ground powder in the dry ingredients and use extract or paste in wet ingredients.

Benefits of ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder. Ground vanilla bean powder has unique properties. Because our ground powder is unadulterated, it retains pure Tahitian vanilla flavor very well. Unlike vanilla extract, ground vanilla powder contains no alcohol. Because our ground powder has no added sugar, it works well for diabetics and those who are avoiding sugar, starch and carbohydrates. Our ground powder is the rich, dark brown color of vanilla beans, not light like cornstarch or sugar, so it will blend in easily with dark ingredients such as chocolate. Ground vanilla bean powder yields a strong vanilla flavor.

Do-It-Yourself ground vanilla bean powder. It is so easy to make your own vanilla bean powder. Simply chop dessicated beans and grind them in a coffee grinder or herb mill. If your beans have a little moisture that makes it difficult to grind, leave them out in the air for a day or two and grind again. The drier the bean, the finer the powder.

Suggested uses of ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder

  • In baking - use in dry mixes (think homemade hot chocolate mix or pancake mix), breads, frostings, icing, and buttercreams, or sprinkle on top of cakes, cookies or doughnuts 
  • When cooking - easily mixes in liquid without clumping, use in sauces 
  • In desserts - add to chocolates, meringues, custards, ice creams, and gelatos 
  • In beverages - add to coffee, tea, hot cocoa, smoothies, protein shakes, cocktails 
  • On fruit - sprinkle vanilla on fresh fruit instead of sugar 
  • Other uses - flavor sugar, salt, butter, nut butter, oil, lemon curd 

Storing ground vanilla bean powder. Just like other vanilla products, store ground vanilla bean powder in an airtight (preferably glass) container, and keep in a cool, dry, dark place. Avoid extreme temperatures, and moist, humid, warm places. Do not freeze or refrigerate vanilla, as it depletes flavor and could encourage mold growth. When stored properly, vanilla beans, extract, paste and powder can last in excess of two years.

Equivalencies – How much Ground Vanilla Bean Powder to Use. Substitute any of the following for each other with confidence:
  • 2 inches Tahitian of a vanilla bean 
  • 1 tablespoon Tahitian vanilla bean paste 
  • 1 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder

So there you have it. Now you know all about ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder. Now go bake something with the intoxicating scent of vanilla and make wonderful memories for your children, grandchildren or anyone you love.

Bake With Love. Bake with Vanilla From Tahiti.

Buy Vanilla From Tahiti Online Now

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Cookies - Vanilla From Tahiti

When you consider the intoxicating scent of vanilla, what is your reaction? Joy perhaps? Maybe a childhood memory swells recalling a freshly baked birthday cake? For me, it’s the familiar comfort of my mother’s soft and chewy sugar cookies.

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, we decided to try our hand at baking a batch of perfect sugar cookies. Ours are simply topped with a sprinkling of homemade Tahitian vanilla bean sugar and filled with love, just the way mom used to make them.

The recipe you ask? After much deliberation, we decided that this sugar cookie recipe was the one, perfected over many months of patient practice by baker extraordinaire, Sally McKenney, the heart and mind behind Sally’s Baking Addiction.

We won’t give away all of Sally’s secrets in this post, you can get her step-by-step, photo-filled instructions right here. What we WILL share with you is our super-simple Tahitian vanilla bean sugar recipe.

Tahitian Vanilla Bean Sugar
One cup of granulated sugar
One spent Tahitian vanilla bean

Take your scraped vanilla bean, cut it into short 1” pieces and grind it up using a mortar and pestle. Next, scrape your freshly ground vanilla bean into a small mixing bowl with the cup of sugar. Mix the two together and store in an airtight container. Voila!

Bake with Love. Bake with Vanilla From Tahiti.

Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Cookies - Vanilla From Tahiti