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Friday, October 5, 2012

The plumper, the better!

Split vanilla bean, paring knife, and clumpy seeds
Happy Friday ladies and gentlemen! As I was baking a ricotta pound cake for a special dinner for my husband, I started thinking about the importance of fresh vanilla beans. If your recipe calls for a whole bean, I would recommend investing. Though they usually start at $10 for one, they elevate your dessert to an entirely different level! They've also become fairly easy to find. Williams-Sonoma, one of my favs, usually has them, as well as Fairway (if you're lucky enough to have one!) and Whole Foods.

To split a vanilla bean, take a paring knife and try to cut evenly through the center of the pod. Using one side at a time, flip your knife to the dull edge and carefully rub it along the pod half, spreading out the pod as you go, so it's flat. Do the same to the other side. Scrape the seeds (which look like a clumpy black goo) into the batter/ingredients according to the recipe's instructions. If you're making ice cream. Cut the pod as instructed above, whisk the seeds as well as the pod halves into your milk mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let steep for about 30 minutes. This will infuse your milk with the vanilla deliciousness and add elegance to your base. Yum! Happy baking and happy weekend!

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