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I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet
I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Cakes

Sticky Toffee Pudding

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During my time in Devon, England, one of my goals was to try Sticky Toffee Pudding. For those of you unaware of English vernacular, “pudding” is used interchangeably with “dessert” and includes cakes, and other baked goods. To add to the confusion, puddings can also be savory, such as Yorkshire Pudding, which is served with roast beef. So Sticky Toffee Pudding is actually a cake that can be baked or steamed and is smothered in a caramel-like sauce.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Mascarpone Vanilla Cream Frosting

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Have you noticed how many baked goods will lead with “Vanilla” but the cake, cookie, etc. tastes completely bland and doesn’t have the signature flavor of pure vanilla? If so, you will really enjoy this recipe. Not only does vanilla flavor come through loud and clear, the Mascarpone frosting is so good you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful right from the bowl! A perfect recipe to give as a thank you gift, but make sure you make extra for yourself!

Jam Cakes

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Jam cakes are a quick-to-make dessert with ingredients usually found in refrigerators and pantries. The recipe makes six or more cupcake size “cakelets,” depending on the size of your tins.  You can use whatever type of jam you’d like. In the photo above I’ve used raspberry jam. In the photo below I used lemon curd. The cakelets were very lemony and delicious. I’ve also sometimes skipped the glaze and used powdered sugar instead. Perfect for an afternoon treat or packed for lunch at school or work.

Viennese Holiday Pannetone

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Viennese Pannetone, is a molded cake filled with currants and only loosely similar to the Italian pannetone, which is a yeasted bread. What I love about this recipe is that it’s easy to make and it makes a lovely holiday gift for friends and family. It adds festive color and flavor to holiday feasts, afternoon tea and brunches. If you are making these cakes ahead, they do well with a little Kirschwasser (unsweetened cherry brandy), rum or brandy sprinkled on them when they come out of the oven. Wrap them well and store in the refrigerator. Flavors develop nicely within a few days.

Oat Flour Fruit Basket Cake

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 Excerpted from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Leigh Beisch.

Alice says, “Too simple for words: soft, tender layers of oat flour génoise are filled with preserves, whipped cream, and fresh berries. Team strawberry preserves with fresh strawberries, or pair them with apricot or peach preserves instead. In winter, swap the berries for diced bananas. It will be hard not to eat leftovers for breakfast—but there’s nothing wrong with oats and fruit for breakfast.”

Oat Flour Sponge Cake

Excerpted from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Leigh Beisch.

Oat Flour Sponge Cake
Serves 8 to 10

Alice says, “Oat flour turns a plain-Jane sponge cake into something elegant with the subtle but distinct flavors of butterscotch or toffee. The crusty edges I picked off my first oat flour sponge cake were delicious with my coffee.”

Chocolate Oblivion Tart

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 Long before the California food revolution began, my mother was given one of these dazzling tarts as a gift. It was a predecessor of the exceptional chocolate desserts that emerged in the 1980s. We were impressed by the simplicity of ingredients and the deep, rich, creaminess of the tart.

At some point in the 1990s, the recipe was featured in Gourmet magazine, complete with raspberry coulis and a glaze, both of which are optional. It became a regular in my repertoire for special events, and when I launched my online business I featured it in my chocolate section.

How to Make Perfect Cheesecakes

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 It’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t like cheesecake. There are several camps, however, regarding  which type of cheesecake is best.  Some of us like thick, satiny super creamy cakes; others like  drier, fluffier cakes. A third camp loves the savory version — no sugar but lots of delicious cheese — and yet another faction especially likes flavored cheesecakes — pumpkin, chocolate, blueberry — the list is endless. Finally, there’s a really big camp  filled with those devotees who love any version.  Just bring it on!!

Although cheesecake’s a snap to assemble, things can easily go south during the baking process. Cracked top anyone? Leaks dripped on the oven floor? Lopsided? Oh well…

Vanilla Queen’s Cake

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Much to my surprise and delight, vanilla fan and serious home baker, Sandie Rymal, created a special cake recipe then named it in my honor! I admit, this is a first for me.  It’s a beauty and, although I haven’t yet baked it myself (nor even tasted it as Sandie lives in Oregon and I’m in California), it certainly looks luscious!

Lemon Trifle with Berries

Lemon Trifle with Berries

If you have teenagers, you’ll probably want to skip this blog as the main ingredient in trifle is stale cake. If you actually do occasionally have stale (or extra) cake — with or without teenagers — read on!

If you’re unfamiliar with trifle, it’s a British invention for using  stale cake. Which does lead one to wonder if stale cake is a common problem for the Brits because their teenagers are sent off to boarding school.

Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Tart

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While this recipe involves some time and dedication, it isn’t difficult. It was inspired by a recipe in Sunset magazine, which I’ve adapted. For instance, the original recipe called for two tablespoons of hazelnut liquor, such as Frangelico. The local liquor store didn’t have any “shooter” bottles and I didn’t want to invest in a large bottle, so I added some extra vanilla extract.

A Vanilla Chiffon Cake to Celebrate Spring

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Spring weather  is so fickle. Balmy and beautiful one day, windy and wild the next. But here on the California Coast, the first organic strawberries are being picked on our local farms, unusual this early, but oh, so welcome, and perfect for a holiday dessert.

When I think spring and summer cakes, I think angel food, sponge or chiffon. Light, airy, the perfect foil for berries and other  summer fruits.  I decided on chiffon.

My friend and colleague Shirley Corriher, has this to say about chiffon cakes in her book, BakeWise :

Why do our customers love Rain's Choice vanilla?

  • You get MORE FLAVOR because we use 20% more beans in our extracts than is required by law!
  • 99% of all vanilla products are imitation. Ours are 100% PURE!
  • We carefully choose all products to assure best QUALITY & FLAVOR!
  • Our farmers are paid a FAIR PRICE.
  • Our vanilla beans are SUSTAINABLY grown.
  • Everything we sell is ORGANICALLY grown.
  • Your purchase here supports our HUMANITARIAN efforts.

Thank you for supporting The Vanilla Company and our farmers! BUY HERE now.

For an update on the 2016 vanilla shortage, please see "Why is Vanilla so Expensive?"

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