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Dec 14, 2009 07:03 PM

Vanilla without cakes, creams, or scallops

//pickiness mode: engage!//

i have some ballin rodelle vanilla beans from costco i'd like to use up. i love real vanilla, and don't cook with it enough. i'd like to use these in something delicious and would enjoy hearing any recommendations outside of the three following camps:

-american cakes and cupcakes: i don't like the texture of our country's cakes...to me it's an unending horizon of starchy monotony with cloyingly sweet clouds of nothing-flavored frosting.

-cream-based desserts: custard is one of my favorite textures, but i am lamentably lactose intolerant. low amounts of cream can generally fly under the radar, large amounts or milk generally wake up the anti-air.

-scallops. everyone pairs vanilla with scallops, and i agree that they have interestingly similar flavor structures. that said, most preparations i find way too sweet, so i tend to avoid this preparation.

sorry to have such a large disclaimer, but if you have any other suggestions for appreciating vanilla at its most elemental, i'd love to hear them.

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  1. You should make some vanilla sugar ... I've made it before in the food processor.

    And then ... cookies, frosting, coffee, whatever with the vanilla sugar. You can use it anywhere you'd use regular sugar, but it's especially good for rolling Christmas cookies.

    1. the vanilla sugar is a good call. you can also make vanilla syrup or vanilla paste, or if you're a drinker, vanilla-infused vodka or rum.

      coconut milk-based desserts would solve the dairy problem.

      other ideas:

      1. How about a coconut milk based vanilla custard?

        1. Infused oils, salt, vinegar, alcohol, simply syrups/honey, caramel sauce/chews, milks (nut milk, coconut milk, goats milk), compound butters, compote/jam/jellies/preserves. All these can be used in other dishes, desserts, sauces and dressings, cocktails and other beverages. For example, try using vanilla bean compound butter (plus white pepper and orange zest for me) for your butter block in homemade croissants, vanilla bean infused balsamic vinegar for a glaze, vanilla bean peach preserves for bbq sauce.

          Meringues, french macarons, pavlovas, and marshmallows show off vanilla well, along with ice cream, obviously, sorbet, aioli, bernaise, and creamy dips.
          Risotto with winter squash, polenta, rice pudding or porridge, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, and millet all benefit from a dose of vanilla bean.

          Also, there are an enormous number of options for lactose-free custardy desserts. For replacing milk alone you have so many options, from commercial soy, almond, oat, hemp, hazelnut and coconut milk, to any homemade combination of nut, seed and grain milks. Silken tofu, cornstarch, agar, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, and water chestnut flour, meanwhile, all help to thicken, gel, and set. Do some research on vegan desserts!

          1. scrape some beans into sweet potatoes and mash. Some chopped jalapenos or chipotle for heat goes well with this too.