I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet

White Cake With Butter Cream

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Courtesy of Chef Stephany Buswell: www.chefany.com

This is a good, basic vanilla cake. It becomes spectacular with the butter cream recipe that follows.

Stephany says: “This is my favorite butter cream. It is very perishable and should not be made more than a day in advance. If you are looking for a wonderful creamy and not very sweet icing that showcases the vanilla bean, I think you will love this one.

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Pineapple Cheese Crumbcake

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Courtesy of Beth Hensperger

Most coffee cake recipes, especially ones for winter, call for canned pineapple, but here the glistening fresh fruit layer is made from scratch and accented with pure vanilla, a most complementary culinary pairing. To choose a ripe pineapple, look for a strong sweet fragrance and yellow-brown skin that is not too green; the leafy crown will be a bright green and an inner leaf will detach easily when plucked from the center. Adapted from an old recipe clipped from Bon Appétit magazine decades ago, it is quite perfect in flavor and texture, and easily serves a large crowd. This is simply one of the best homemade coffeecakes.

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Mom’s Best Cheesecake

Courtesy of Chef Stephany Buswell: www.chefany.com

Stephany says about this recipe: “When I was a child my mom made this cheesecake for every holiday or special occasion. My mom died when I was 17 and I forgot about her cooking until I became a serious baker in my 20s. I began searching for a recipe like the one my mother had made but could never duplicate the recipe.

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Fresh Apple Upside Down Cake

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Courtesy of Rose Levy Beranbaum

This cake was inspired by the height of the apple season, fall of 1991. It is reminiscent of Tart Tatin with cake instead of pastry (one could call it Gâteau Tatin!). The caramelized apples and walnuts, topping a velvety tender butter cake is a fabulous combination. I brought it, hot from the oven, to my cousin Marion’s house in Westchester for dinner, along with a special treat: Glensfoot cream, which is high in butterfat and not ultra pasteurized. She whipped it in a copper bowl, right at the table, perfuming it with Jack Daniel’s bourbon, and spooned a little onto the top of each portion of cake. It was perfect to temper the sweetness of the cake. We all loved it. This is truly a dessert made in heaven.

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Double Vanilla Hazelnut Pound Cake

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Courtesy of Janet Johnson

Janet has a touching story about this pound cake which is a little too long to share here in its entirety. Briefly, she has a friend who was born in Austria whose father worked for the railroads. Each day he walked 12 miles, inspecting the condition of the rails. While he walked, he gathered the wild hazelnuts growing alongside the tracks, and brought them home as a treat to his family.

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Bourbon Vanilla Macadamia Nut Tart

Courtesy of Carole Bloom: www.carolebloom.com

Pure vanilla is used in three forms – beans, extract, and and ground vanilla bean powder – to contribute its rich, full-bodied flavor to this yummy tart. The filling is soft and chewy yet crunchy with the texture of tropical macadamia nuts.

Makes one 11-inch round tart, 14 to 16 servings.

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The Perfect Angel Food Cake

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Courtesy of Flo Braker

Flo Braker is a very talented baker, specializing in desserts. The author of “The Simple Art of Perfect Baking,” and one of the original members of The Baker’s Dozen, a national group of culinary professionals, Flo has assisted thousands of bakers with simple secrets that bring spectacular results. Her angel food cake has been featured in culinary magazines and newspapers as the definitive recipe. Need I say more?

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Roasted Mushroom Salad

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Research has shown that mushrooms contain components that help to prevent cancer and stimulate the immune system. At first it was believed that only Asian mushrooms such as shitake and maitake contained cancer-preventing ingredients, but it appears that even domestic mushrooms are powerful healers. Combined with other healthy ingredients and a bit of vanilla, this is a Power combination that tastes delicious!

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Yeasted Buttermilk Vanilla Waffles

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Courtesy of  Beth Hensperger

Yeast adds a dimension of flavor and texture by allowing the batter to develop overnight before baking. Remember that a high temperature, in either a regular grid or Belgium-style waffle maker, tends to make a crisp waffle, while a lower temperature produces a waffle that is moist and tender. Serve with your choice of a dazzling array of accompaniments: raspberry puree and crème fraîche, a fruit butter, sliced bananas or fresh berries and vanilla yogurt, sautéed apples, or lots of pure maple syrup and sweet butter.

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Vanilla Coconut Quick Bread

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 Courtesy of  Beth Hensperger

Coconut and vanilla are toothsome combos in this luscious quick bread. Be sure to use unsweetened coconut rather than sweetened, as the sweetened is too moist for this recipe. Serve alongside fruit or poultry salads, or toast and top with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert.

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Fresh Berry Coffee Cake

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 Living on the Central California Coast I almost feel guilty because of  the magnificent produce we have year ’round. This is especially true when the artichokes,  asparagus and fresh garlic start appearing in the markets in late March — the harbingers of spring. The strawberries aren’t quite ready but they’ll follow soon; by May the farmer’s markets are

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