Vanilla is one of the most important flavors in a baker’s kitchen. It is included in most recipes because it boosts the flavor of other ingredients and makes everything from chocolate to berries taste even better. It also, of course, tastes fantastic on its own and deserves a little time in the spotlight. Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques is a cookbook that focuses on vanilla and lets it be the star of each and every recipe in the book. Now, “vanilla” is often used to describe something plain or boring, but you won’t find any “vanilla” vanilla here, as the recipes are designed to maximize flavor and let the sweet, complex floral flavor of real vanilla stand out.
The book opens with a brief history of vanilla, one of the most expensive spices on the planet, and how it came to be so popular. It then goes into how vanilla is processed and the different types of vanilla that are available for use by bakers, such as whole vanilla beans, vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste, just to name a few. Avid vanilla fans will appreciate the tasting notes that describe how vanilla from one region differs from others – since vanilla from Indonesia, Mexico and Madagascar all have their own unique flavors – and everyone will benefit from the vanilla FAQs, which include quick tips on how to store vanilla and what exactly is imitation vanilla.
From the intro, the book goes into the recipes and it focuses on dessert. The chapters include Breakfast, Cakes and Pies, Cookies and Bars, Candies and Confections, Custards and Creams, and Drinks – and every recipe is vanilla oriented, from Baked Vanilla Bean French Toast to Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes. There are recipes for making homemade vanilla extract, vanilla syrups and vanilla-infused liquors that will give readers many new ways to use vanilla, too. The photos are beautiful, but the promise of all that vanilla flavor really is enough to make every recipe sound appealing even without them, so the most difficult thing about working with this book – if you are a vanilla lover – is deciding where to start.