Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cooking, drinking, and baking with Tahitian vanilla

Ever wonder what Tahitian vanilla smells and tastes like? The most common descriptors for Tahitian vanilla are: floral, fruity, chocolate, cherry, aromatic and complex.

You are probably aware that vanilla is most commonly used as a flavoring in ice cream, pastries, desserts, and in chocolate confections. But don’t limit yourself to sweets and baked goods. Vanilla be used in savory dishes to bring out the natural sweetness in shellfish like shrimp, scallops and lobster, for example. Tahitian vanilla in particular can impart depth and complexity to sauces for pork, poultry, and barbecue as well as Mexican moles. Tahitians use vanilla in cream or wine sauces for seafood dishes. Use Tahitian vanilla in salad dressings, fruit soups, pork dishes or pork brines, dry rub for beef, marinades, carrot soup, squash soup, sweet potatoes, the list goes on and on.

Try Tahitian vanilla in drinks. Put a pinch of ground vanilla in your coffee, hot chocolate, cocoa, tea, smoothies, and milkshakes. Drop a bean or two into a bottle of vodka, bourbon or rum for a couple weeks or so to infuse the spirit. The use of vanilla in creative cocktails is limited only by your imagination. Visit our blog for posts on vanilla mixology to learn how to infuse spirits, make vanilla simple syrup and for cocktail recipes.

If your recipe calls for a bean and you only have extract, don’t worry. The forms of vanilla can be used interchangeably. However, the equivalents for a vanilla beans, extract, and powder depends, as they say, on a lot of things including your preference. If the vanilla beans are fresh, you might not needs as much as if the beans are dry. A plump, moist, aromatic Tahitian vanilla bean can be twice the size of a grocery store bean and twice as intense. Is the vanilla extract natural and gourmet quality, or is it synthetic, imitation or simply flavoring from the supermarket shelves? Is the ground powder pure vanilla bean or does it have added sugar, starch or other fillers? Adjust accordingly. Here is a general starting point: 1 Tsp extract = a 2” section of bean = ½-1 Tsp ground powder.

Wolfgang Puck’s Executive Pastry Chef Marian Getz dispels the crazy Internet myth that you shouldn't use Tahitian for hot preparations because some of the perfume will be lost. She says, “That's just ignorance. Of course flavors are lost or muted when we manipulate them with heat, but the wonderful nuances are still there. In some cases, a bit more vanilla is added at the end of cooking to add another layer of flavor. But that should never make you think that you shouldn't use Tahitian vanilla in hot applications! The change in flavors is true of most of the foods we cook. Think of onions, for example. They change dramatically during cooking, which is a wonderful thing, and many times extra onion is added off heat to add that fresh punch of flavor.” Read more of Chef Getz thoughts on Tahitian vanilla. 

So now that you know all about Tahitian vanilla, get your apron on and head to the kitchen! Shop for premium Tahitian vanilla beans, extract and ground beans on our website. Can't decide? Try a 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. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to split a Tahitian vanilla bean

You’re likely to be familiar with Tahitian vanilla extract. It’s so easy to use because it keeps forever and a little goes a long way to enhance sweetness in your recipes. You might be less familiar with ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder. Ground powder is a great way to incorporate vanilla into dry ingredients. (Stay tuned, because we’ll have more on how to use ground vanilla bean powder in a future blog post.) But, here’s the thing. The absolute best way to get that unique Tahitian vanilla aroma and flavor is directly from the Tahitian vanilla bean itself. Don’t be intimidated by recipes that call for splitting a vanilla bean. It is so easy! Here is a handy technique to getting the most seeds from the bean. Read on.

First off, let’s just get this out of the way. Splitting a Tahitian vanilla bean is no different from splitting any vanilla bean, except that we find that it’s a bit easier. Easier because Tahitian vanilla beans tend to be more plump, larger and more pliable than other beans. Other than that, the procedure is exactly the same.

Step one: Grasp one end of the vanilla bean firmly. With a very sharp paring knife, cut the bean lengthwise. A sharp blade is important because dull or serrated blades tear the bean rather than cutting a clean, smooth slice. The tiny vanilla seeds will stick to the torn bits and resist being removed and you’ll end up with fewer seeds. Take care not to cut the bean all the way through. You want to end up with one piece, if possible. If it is impossible, don’t sweat it. Simply proceed as if it was one piece.

Step two: Spread the bean open. You can see that we sliced through a small portion of the bean, ourselves. 

Step three: With the blunt edge of the knife, scrape out the tiny black seeds, also known as vanilla caviar.

And there you have it. You now have the most delicious and aromatic and beautiful way to use Tahitian vanilla, bar none. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Here is another way to split a bean. Wolfgang Puck's Executive Pastry Chef, Marian Getz does it differently. She says At the restaurant, we don't slice and scrape your plump Tahitian vanilla beans, we squeeze and pop them instead. Because they are so soft and pliable, it's more efficient.”

What to do with the spent bean: Wait! Don’t do it! Don’t throw it out! That spent bean still has a lot of life left in it. There is a plethora of ways to use the fragrant and flavorful spent bean. You can make Tahitian vanilla sugar, or salt, or honey, or simple syrup for cocktails, or infuse spirits, flavor tea or coffee, or make your own vanilla extract, or sweeten the smell of your sock drawer. Oh the possibilities! Go to our blog post for more ideas on what to do with a spent Tahitian vanilla bean.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bake with Love Tahitian Vanilla Giveaway!

Bake with Love Giveaway
Enter to win over $100 in FREE Tahitian vanilla!

Using top quality ingredients is the best way to put your love of baking into every bite. One lucky winner will receive a collection of our most popular Tahitian vanilla products.
- 10 Long Tahitian Vanilla Beans
- 8oz Tahitian Vanilla Extract
- 50g Ground Tahitian Vanilla Bean Powder

Winner will be announced at noon Pacific time on February 14th, 2015.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tahitian Vanilla Old Fashioned Cocktail

There is a reason an Old Fashioned is as a classic cocktail. A classic is something has come to be considered an outstanding example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. The Old Fashioned certainly fits that bill. However, that is not to say that a classic shouldn’t be updated with new twist from time to time! 

We asked mixologist extraordinaire, Chris Milligan to put a new spin on the Old Fashioned using Tahitian vanilla. Here is the recipe of his delicious concoction.

Tahitian Vanilla Old Fashioned

1/2 oz vanilla syrup (super-easy recipe here
2 oz rye whiskey
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange peel
Tahitian vanilla bean

Pour the rye, syrup and bitters into an old fashioned glass. Top with ice, and gently stir 3-4 times. Cut the rind of an orange and twist it over the glass so the oils express over the drink. Garnish with the orange peel, a cherry and a portion of a vanilla bean.

Find more of Chris Milligan's creative cocktail recipes on his website, Santa Fe Barman