Magical Bean Paste
You know how there is this silly idea that "love is the secret ingredient" in some one's cooking? I have complicated feelings about it. I mean, "love" can mean that the person who made the food gave a damn and that can really go a long way in making good food. Giving a damn can mean that they were patient when it was necessary, delicate when required and used good ingredients. But maybe just good ingredients are the secret ingredients?
See? It all kind of gets you to the same place.
In my case, when I bake, I most certainly give a damn and I think that shows up when you eat my cooking. I use farm fresh eggs with deep orange yolks, good chocolate and chocolate powder and real butter and cream. But if I had to pick one thing that makes the biggest difference?
It is really good vanilla. Nielsen-Massey is my go to.
Now, if you have baked before you already know how and when to use vanilla. Use good stuff. Your food will taste better. Okay. But what if you want to take your cooking next level?
You need the bean paste, man.
Now, there is no need to be scared, you can use it teaspoon for teaspoon in recipes that call for extract. It is more like a gel filled with vanilla bean seeds than a paste. Remember when you were a kid and you figured out that the really good vanilla ice cream had the speckles in it? THIS STUFF IS THE SPECKLES.
You can really put it anywhere you put vanilla. Cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. I find that the biggest impact is when I make light colored frostings, the beans are visible (see my background image for what I mean) or whipped cream! The flavor is intense vanilla and that is the best kind of vanilla.
I also love to pour a splash in the fruit that I am using in a fruit crisp. It looks, tastes and smells amazing.
In fact, I used it this past weekend to make this strawberry-rhubarb crisp. You just need to add a teaspoon or so in the fruit mixture. People will like it and think you are some kind of magic fruit wizard or something.