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Vanilla Bean History
Where does Vanilla come from?

Make your own Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Recipes

What to Look for when you buy vanilla beans

Storing Vanilla beans

BEST BUYS on Vanilla Beans

Using Vanilla to make Seductive Foods

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Vanilla Enchantment order vanilla beans  | vanilla history  |  Kitchen


A favorite recipe using vanilla,

Chocolate Blackout

More Enchanted Spice Recipes

This is a nice presentation of a cake that was popularized around WW11
In Brooklyn at Ebinger's Bakery
Read more about the history of this cake here

This cake is a rich chocolate cake made richer by using preferably Dutch processed cocoa, and a pudding infused with unsweetened dark chocolate.


printer friendly recipe


For the cake:

  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (I used espresso)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


For the pudding:

  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup cornstarch, sifted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

2.Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, 1- 2 minutes.

Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla,

3. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture till smooth.


4. You want to fill the cupcake paper about 2/3 full. Do not overfill or it will overflow or have a lopsided dome top.

I did a sample to test for the size. This baked for 20 minutes.

Fill the rest of the cupcake papers and bake for about 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.


Meanwhile make the pudding while the cupcakes are baking.

5. Chop the Chocolate for the pudding.

6. in a small bowl mix the cornstarch with the milk.

Heat up the half and half in a saucepan till it is about 180 degrees or starting to steam. Do not let it boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to stir over the heat till it thickens.

7. Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and chocolate,
blend until smooth.

8. I scooped out the center of each cupcake with a melon baller and filled it with the pudding and then frosted the rest of the cupcake.

9. I used famous chocolate wafers crushed them up and sprinkled them on top. This protects the pudding, and gives a nice crunchy topping.

The traditional way to top the cakes is with some of the crumbs that you keep with the crumbs from the centers. I dry out the crumbs just a bit on a sheet pan in the oven.

10. Finish the cupcakes with a little chocolate shavings. You can use a carrot peeler.



Where Do Vanilla Beans Come From
vanilla flower

Vanilla beans  are actually from the orchid variety Vanilla Planifolia. Of the many thousands of varieties of orchids this is the only one that bears edible fruit. It is a rather small plain yellow  orchid that produces these long pods.

The pods look like green beans when ripe and after picked they need to dry and then ferment to develop that rich flavor. It is a complicated process involving many months , that is why the price is very high. Vanilla beans are grown in the tropical climates only. Some of the more popular countries are Madagascar and the surrounding islands, Uganda, Indonesia, Tahiti, Mexico, India and Hawaii.

back to top

    Vanilla Recipes

Creme Brulle
Vanilla Sugar
Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream

If you are interested in more recipes, here is a wonderful book, by the world's leading authority on Vanilla. She has spent her life discovering the world of vanilla , traveling to Mexico where it was first discovered, working with the vanilla farmers themselves to help them. In fact a portion of the profit from the book goes to the vanilla farmers. The book goes deep into the history of vanilla , with facts and many tested recipes from all of Patricia's chef friends all over the world.

The Vanilla Chef ....by Patricia Rain

order book here


What to look for when you buy vanilla beans

in this picture you can see the difference in the beans ...5 inch as compared to the 8 inch beans

The 3 top varieties of vanilla beans are Madagascar, Tahitian, and Mexican.
You should ask for;
1) premium beans
2) The length, 6 to 8 inch beans are the best.
3) Plump, supple, moist, and glossy, and a rich aroma.

Avoid dry, woody, beans , short , almost no scent.

Bourbon beans are long and slender, with a very rich taste and smell, have thick, oily skin, contain an abundance of tiny seeds, and have a strong vanilla aroma. Bourbon beans from Madagascar and the Comoros are described as having a creamy, haylike, and sweet, with vanillin overtones. Bourbon beans from other regions will be similar if they are picked at peak ripeness and are properly cured.

Mexican beans are very similar to Bourbon beans though they have a more mellow, smooth, quality and a spicy, woody fragrance.

Tahitian beans are usually shorter, plumper, and contain a higher oil and water content than Bourbon beans. The skin is thinner, they contain fewer seeds, and the aroma is fruity and floral. They are often described as smelling like licorice, cherry, prunes, or wine.

All three types of vanilla are equally good to use though their flavors are quite different. I suggest that you experiment to determine which flavor you most like. Or you may find, as I have, that you will choose beans that best pair with the food or beverage you are preparing.





Storing Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans will keep indefinitely in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Don't refrigerate beans as this can cause them to harden and crystallize. In the humid tropics where beans are grown, they are wrapped in oiled or waxed paper and stored in tin boxes. As I live in a cooler, dryer climate, I keep my beans wrapped in plastic in an airtight plastic tub or glass jar. If you live in a hot humid climate, this isn't a good idea as beans can mildew easily, especially if additional moisture collects in the plastic.

Bourbon beans may develop a frosting of natural vanillin crystals if you keep them for a while. This usually occurs over time and not when the beans are first cured and dried. Called givre in French (which means light frost), these crystals indicate that the beans are high in natural vanillin and are of very good quality. These crystals are quite edible and very flavorful. If you are uncertain whether the beans are covered with crystals or mildewed, take them into the sunlight. The crystals are similar to mineral crystals and will reflect the sun's rays, creating the colors of the rainbow. Mildew, on the other hand, will be dull and flat in the light, and may also smell bad. If the bean is mildewed, throw it away as the mildew will spread to uninfected beans.


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