I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet
I love the vanilla Queen's vanilla extract for its natural quality and rich flavors. I use it exclusively in all my baked good and confections." – Chef Stephany, Culinary Instructor

The Sensational Kaese Sahne Torte from Maria Reisz Springer

Kaese Sahne Torte


An Austrian Cheese and Cream Cake

Today I am bringing you a blog from a dear friend, Maria Reisz Springer. Maria is from Europe and grew up with incredible desserts. She now has a cooking school in Maryland and tempts sahne-torte-0311those of us who don’t live nearby with incredible blogs. When I saw this blog on Facebook, I asked Maria if she would be comfortable sharing it with my readers and she said she would be happy to be a guest blogger.

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Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

By Alice Medrich (Artisan Books, 2012)

Dessert: Who doesn’t love it? Even those of us who have sworn off of sugar or beg-off to hold at-bay another pound, secretly have illicit thoughts of a rich, warm morsel from the oven in deep winter, or an icy granita or a cone filled with buttery, creamy ice cream on a blistering day.

Okay, maybe I’m projecting a little too much. Truth is, I love dessert! Years ago I had a conversation with a five-year-old boy, and we admitted to each other that we didn’t have a sweet tooth; we had sweet teeth – a mouth full of them! My grandsons would agree that they too would walk a mile in the snow for something chocolate.

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Things to Do With Vanilla Ice Cream

Courtesy of Alice Medrich, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

This is a selection from Alice’s book that directs readers to different recipes she has in the book. You will need to read the book for the recipes that are highlighted, but this will give you good ideas for adorning vanilla — or other– ice creams. And, for starts, how about the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream? or Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream?

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Mark Sciscenti Talks About Hot Chocolate

Get Some Hot, Steamy Love in a Mug

By Mark Sciscenti

All alone I sing

To the one who is my Lord:

In this place where

the gods command,

The flower-chocolate drink

is foaming – the flower intoxication.

I yearn, oh yes!

For my heart has tasted it:

It intoxicated my heart

– songs, dreams, yearnings.

My heart has tasted it.

– Tlaltecatzin (late 15th-century

Mixtec poet)

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Norwegian Toscakake

photo 1-47

Courtesy of Pat Sinclair, Classic Scandinavian Baking

Pat says, “To Scandinavians, “tosca” means a layer of sliced almonds covered with a buttery caramel topping.  The tender sponge cake is leavened mostly by air beaten into the eggs and is typical of the type of cakes popular in Scandinavia.  Toasting the almonds brings out their nutty flavor and adds color to the topping.”

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Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Apricots Poached in Sauternes


Courtesy of David Lebovitz from Ready for Dessert

David says that while the cakes stands well on its own, the apricots poached in Sauternes are so good, that he has included them with this recipe.  This recipe is also in Room for Dessert, a compilation of David’s best/favorite desserts, sans apricots in Sauternes, so you’re getting a double treat here.

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Tahitian Vanilla Honey Caramels with Fleur de Sel

photo 2-10

 Courtesy of Annaliese Keller, Malabar Trading Company and Monterey Bay Farmers Markets

Note from the Queen: Some of us are wild about salt with caramel and/or chocolate, while for others this is a very new experience.  If you are a newbie, go easy on the salt at first to see how you like it.  You can purchase Fleur de Sel online and from some specialty food stores.

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Gift of the Gods Cake

Courtesy of Susie Norris, author of Chocolate Bliss

Susie says, This is my favorite fudge cake. It is light, but also buttery, chocolaty, soft, and moist. Its texture is strong enough to hold up to butter cream, which can drag a lesser cake down. This cake works well with Sweet Bittersweet Ganache (recipe below.)   

Makes 2 (8-inch) cake layers

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Rose Levy Beranbaum Comes to the Baker’s Dozen

Rose 268728c01If you aren’t familiar with Rose Levy Beranbaum, get ready to meet an extraordinary baker and beautiful, humble woman.  Rose has been creating amazing cookbooks for more than two decades that have become classics for those who love to bake.  Rose has a wonderful site, complete with blog and monthly newsletter, which I highly recommend.  Her most recent cookbook, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes won the Best Cookbook of the Year at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in April of 2010.

In addition to the book review on Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, I wanted to honor Rose by sharing a blog of her visit to the San Francisco chapter of the Baker’s Dozen, where the group began.  (There are now chapters of the Baker’s Dozen across the country.)

I really can’t say enough good about Rose.  I highly recommend, however,

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Chefany: A Santa Cruz Pastry Chef Legend

I’m not sure when I first met Stephany Buswell, whether she still had her cake business or whether she was teaching at Cabrillo College and baking for restaurants. Whenever we first met, she was already on her way in creating herself as a local legend, though I’m sure she never saw herself in that light.

Stephany, or Chefany as she’s known to her students and colleagues, came up through the ranks the way many of us have, one class and one cake and pie at a time.  We grew up during an era when girls learned to cook either at home or in Home Economics classes and we either fell passionately in love with cooking and/or baking or we did it only because we had to.  Stephany fell passionately in love with sugar, flour, eggs, butter and spices.  As Chefany,  she started her professional career working as a baker for a natural foods’ store.  In the 1980s she apprenticed with a local European-style bakery and expanded her skills and repertoire.  She then opened her own bakery until the infamous earthquake of 1989 destroyed the building and her bakery.

Chefany went on to manage two very popular bakeries in Santa Cruz as well as to teach at Cabrillo College.  When  the Professional Culinary Institute (PCI) in

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Heavenly Brownie-on-Shortbread Bars


 Courtesy of Flo Braker

Here’s a fun recipe from Flo’s book, Baking for All Occasions.  It makes a great hostess
gift as do many of her delectable recipes.

Flo says:  Baking the silky, intense chocolate topping on crunchy (firm) shortbread makes for neatly cut brownies that will lend panache to any dessert time. 

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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.” 

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Fresh Apple Upside Down Cake


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


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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The Perfect Angel Food Cake

Angelfood cake

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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