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

Poached Pear Tart

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Courtesy of Mary Sommers

This will make one 10″ Tart. You will need a 10″ removable bottom tart pan.

Peel, cut in half and core 3 pears. Poach them until soft in the following liquid.
After pears are softened by poaching, cool them and slice them very thin from the stem end through the blossom end. Place them on paper towels to drain while you make the crust and the filling.

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Persimmon Pudding with Lemon Sauce

  Persimmon Pudding is a rich, delicious cake that takes advantage of the delicate Hachiya persimmons — the orb or acorn shaped ones that must become soft to be ripe.  Pudding is the classic term used for desserts in the UK. Recently, I discovered this was true here in the US into the 20th century.  Served with lemon sauce and whipped cream, it’s divine! The perfect Thanksgiving dessert, it also serves well for December holidays. If you use just some at a time, I recommend wrapping the balance of the cake in a clean dish towel moistened with Brandy or rum.

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Manzanas en Dulce con Vainilla (Sweet Apples with Vanilla)

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Courtesy of Dona Judith Galicia

This recipe comes from Papantla, Veracruz, the center of the Mexican vanilla growing industry. Although apples are certainly not a fruit we associate with the tropics, the apples come from the Sierra Madre Oriental, the mountain range that is only a few hours away.

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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.

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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.”

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

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