Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Question
I'm using real vanilla beans for the first time, and I'm really excited! But I want to make sure that I use them in a way that will really show them off. (I'm already planning to use the dried, empty pods to make vanilla sugar.)
I'd like to make vanilla bean whipped cream. I plan to combine it with some fresh strawberries and use it to fill a basic white cake. I've read that the best way to get the flavor out of the bean is to steep it in milk, cream, etc. So this is my plan, and I'm hoping that you more experienced Chowhounds can comment on it and let me know if it will work or if there is some fatal flaw that I am not foreseeing...
1. Slice bean lengthwise, scrape out all goodies.
2. Add goodies and pod to small pot of heavy whipping cream.
3. Allow to steep over low heat (for how long? recommendations, anyone?)
4. Transfer to bowl, allow to cool a little, then place saran wrap on surface so that skin does not form.
5. Chill overnight. Whip the next day.
Will this work? If not, why? Any suggestions on how to improve upon this recipe?
I'm not convinced you have to even heat it at all since you'll be steeping over night. Even if the beans were extremely old and dried out, they are still pretty powerful stuff! I bought a half dozen vanilla beans that came in one of those plastic "cigar tubes". After using the first one, the cigar tube slipped onto its side and hid behind other spices for heaven knows how long. They were very very brittle when discovered! Petrified you might say. I broke them into pieces and put them in a mortar and pestle, and voila! Vanilla powder! And it's amazingly deliscious.
On the other hand, I don't know that I'd even steep the vanilla bean(s) in the cream over night. Good vanilla beans are very powerful, and using it as a cake filling as you plan, I'd just add the vanilla bean scrapings and go for broke! But I would fortify the whipped cream with a little dissolved gelatin if I wanted it to stand up for more than a very short while. Yeah, I'd fortify the whipped vanilla bean cream with some gelatin, then use a baker's apricot glaze to paint the layers of the cake that will be in contact with the cream to seal them against catching the sogs. That way any leftover cake can be refrigerated a day or two.
I'd say bring the pot to just under a simmer, then remove and let steep. You don't want to loose the fresh cream taste. If you can get non-ultra pasturized/polysorbate 80 cream so much the better. Trader Joes has plain heavy cream. Strain the cream before whipping unless you want the seeds for decoration.
Chill your bowl and beaters for best volume.