Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vanilla is a Valid Flavor Choice

For some reason it bothers me that vanilla is treated as though it is a second-class flavor. Like with ice cream. Everyone is all lovin' on chocolate and strawberry and a billion other flavors. But vanilla? You offer someone vanilla and they ask you what comes on it. Vanilla is treated like a friend who isn't cool enough to invite to the party. And "plain vanilla" is a way of describing something boring and/or minimal.

Well, as Grumpy would say, I'm agin' it. (More after the jump.)

Vanilla is lovely flavor. It is sweet and spicy. Vanilla is perfectly happy providing rich undertones to other flavors, like the extract used in my chocolate fudgey brownies. But just because it is such good company doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve some solo time. Use high quality vanilla and indulge in some yummy homemade pudding.

* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup whole milk
* 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
* 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
2. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolk; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in butter and vanilla.
3. Cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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