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Monday, 25 April 2011

Vanilla Beans Vanilla beans come from orchids By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

Vanilla Beans

Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant, which grows in the form of a bean pod. Although there are over 110 varieties of vanilla orchids, only one, Vanilla planifolia, produces the fruit which gives us 99 percent of commercial vanilla. Another genus, the Vanilla tahitensis grown in Tahiti, does produce fruit with a more pronounced aroma, but debatedly less flavor.

Vanilla orchids are grown in tropic climates, primarily Mexico, Tahiti, Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Comoro, Indonesia, Uganda, and Tongo, with three-fourths of the world's supply coming from Madagascar.

In order to produce the fruit, the orchid flowers are laboriously hand-pollinated at a very specific time of the day when the flowers are open during a short one-month flowering period. The fruit is not permitted to fully-ripen, since this will cause the beans to split, thus losing commercial value. Hand-harvesting occurs four to six months after the fruit appears on the vines.

Once harvested, the green beans go through a treatment process lasting another six months where the beans are soaked in hot water, rolled in blankets to "sweat," dried on flats in the sun to evaporate the water, and then stored in a ventilated room to slowly ferment and produce their unique aroma and flavor.

Quality and aroma of the vanillin flavor varies by growth location, since some areas produce beans with higher vanillin content. The resulting dark brown vanilla bean is usually 7-9 inches long, weighs about 5 grams and yields about 1/2 teaspoon of seeds.

One-quarter teaspoon should be enough to flavor a recipe for 4 to 5 people.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

3 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea Salt

recipe taken from, with no alteration. so far, i followed the chocolate recipe in this blog, i love it! so I'm sharing this one to all readers. :D

3 Vanilla Cupcakes
20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-2/3 cups vanilla sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-2/3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3′s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Vanilla Bean Frosting
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) philly cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
-4-5 cups powdered sugar
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

1. Frost each cooled cupcake with a healthy mound of frosting.
2. Top with vanilla seat salt or whatever you so desire.