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

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is one of those incredibly versatile recipes that can be used in so many ways! If you can keep from eating it by the spoonful out of the bowl or jar, it’s perfect as a jam on toast, biscuits, scones, waffles and pancakes. You can blend 1/2 cup of lemon curd with some fruity olive oil to use as a sauce for salmon or scallops. Blend lemon curd with whipped cream to fill meringue shells, then top them with blueberries or raspberries. And, of course, it is absolutely divine in Sicilian Lemon Tart. The best part is that it’s not difficult to make and lemons are available even during the winter months. Nothing quite like the bright, tart taste of lemon to lift our spirits!

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Pumpkin Tower

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Courtesy of Chef Tony Nigro

Note: This is a multi-level project. It’s not difficult, but it is time-consuming. It’s also impressive and delicious. It comes with the additional recipe for lady-fingers. These delicate sponge-cake treats are useful for tiramisu, chocolate mousse cake and other specialties. Although Tony didn’t indicate his recipe should be made this way, you could line an 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan with the lady-finger batter, then, after batter is baked, fill the pan with the pumpkin mousse. This method is less time-consuming yet maintains the beautiful flavor palette of the recipe. Decorated, it will have a dramatic presentation as well.

Light Lemon Ice Cream

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While I was writing VANILLA, I discovered that before Thomas Jefferson brought vanilla beans to the United States, the ice cream flavor of the moment was lemon. The idea of lemon ice cream sounded intriguing, but when I looked for recipes, all I could find were lemon sorbet and sherbet. I experimented and came up with a real winner. This recipe is ideal as a light dessert and “palate cleanser.” As it’s also lower in calories than regular ice cream, it avoids the category of “guilty pleasure.”

Very Vanilla Creme Brulee Plus Variations

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This is a very popular dessert as most of us love the rich and homey taste and texture of custard. The warm crunchy sugar crust, in contrast with the silken cold custard makes each bite a total sensory pleasure. Serve just as it is or with fresh berries on top.

Note: You may substitute 2 teaspoons of Rain’s Choice vanilla paste instead of the bean, vanilla bean powder and extract.  Eliminate the bean, powder and extract and add vanilla bean paste to the cooled custard mixture before baking.

Vanilla Banana Mac-Nut Cookies

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Courtesy of Gina Tassone, Vanilla Contessa

Almost everyone has experienced the frustration of bananas that have gone from perfect to mush, seemingly overnight. Summer is especially cruel to the sweet and perishable fruit. The Queen’s right-hand woman, Gina, a.k.a. the Contessa, has thoughtfully shared with us a great recipe for utilizing those overripe bananas. You will undoubtedly want to use this recipe often, as it’s quite good.

Seriously Chocolate Crackle Cookies

 

 

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What I love about these cookies is that they are deeply chocolate, slightly crisp and chewy on the outside and densely chocolate inside. Just before serving, pop them into a microwave for a few seconds or a warm (not hot) oven for a few minutes to melt the chocolate a little.  They also keep well, assuming you can keep from eating them all in one sitting.

Pfeffernusse

Pfeffernusse-Cookies

 Courtesy of Chef Stephen Block: www.kitchenproject.com

Chef Stephen says, “The most fascinating thing to me about this classic German Christmas cookie is how the flavors of this cookie develop with aging. A few weeks in a cookie tin and all the spices and flavors double in flavor.

“Some recipes actually call for a very small amount of ground pepper to be added to the dough. We recommend that the pepper be used at the discretion of the cook. Since these cookies contain no shortening, they become rather hard; they may need to be “dunked” in milk or coffee.”

Nanaimo Bars

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Cookie? Cake? Extreme Candy Bar?
It’s hard to know how to define a Nanaimo bar with it’s cookie crust, icing filling and chocolatey topping, but whatever you call it and however you serve it, one thing’s for sure… It’s decadent and delicious!

Lebkuchen

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 Courtesy of Chef Stephen Block: www.kitchenproject.com

Stephen wears several hats.  He is a chef, cooking school instrutor and also has at least two culinary websites.  The Kitchen Project is a good place to start to learn more about Stephen’s work.  The following is his commentary about the German holiday cookie, lebkuchen or “love cookies.” 

Holiday Cookie Cutouts

 A long time ago I discovered the following recipe for cut out cookies. It is absolutely the best recipe I’ve ever found and it’s the one I use even after the holidays when I want a really flavorful cookie. While it isn’t necessary to use Tahitian vanilla extract, its unique flavor definitely stands out in this recipe. I personally like these cookies unadorned, but I’ve included a recipe for Royal Icing for those of you who would like to decorate the cookies.

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