Archive for: vanilla
There is a reason that Jell-o instant pudding is so popular, and that is the fact that you can make it in about an instant. The pudding mix magically thickens cold milk when the two are combined and you can ave pudding in seconds with no cooking required. The secret to instant pudding is a modified corn starch that doesn’t need heat to thicken. You can buy something like it to make your own facsimile for instant pudding, but my homemade Almost Instant Vanilla Pudding doesn’t require any unusual ingredients and takes only a little longer than the instant stuff to make.
The pudding is thickened with cornstarch, but using an unusual method. Instead of adding the cornstarch to the milk mixture while it is on the stove – which can lead to a lumpy pudding if you have uneven heat on your saucepan – a hot milk mixture is poured over the cornstarch (which is mixed with a little cold milk in advance to ensure that it incorporates smoothly). I used a similar method for butterscotch pudding and it really works – and makes the pudding-making process seem a whole lot faster.
From start to finish, I would say that you could finish this off in about 5 minutes and while that doesn’t qualify as “instant,” it certainly is a quick way to satisfy a comfort food craving. Vanilla pudding happens to be my favorite flavor, so I flavored mine with some organic vanilla extract. If you want to fancy your pudding up, you could scrape a vanilla bean into the milk mixture before boiling it to infuse it with flavor and give your almost instant pudding an elegant, vanilla-flecked look.
It is always nice to have a cake around the house. My grandmother might say that you need to have something sweet on hand in case company shows up, because it is always polite to offer guests something to nibble on with their coffee. I personally like to have some cake around because I like to have something to nibble on with my own coffee – although I think that the company argument is fair if you have relatives who like to drop in unexpectedly. For these “everyday” cakes, I like recipes that are easy to make and don’t require a lot of special ingredients, so I can whip them up anytime I’m in the mood for a piece of cake.
This Everyday Vanilla Cake is a recipe that you probably have the ingredients for in your kitchen right now. But don’t be fooled by how simple this cake is, because it is very tasty and could be just the thing you need to satisfy a cake craving. It has a tight, soft crumb and is reminiscent of pound cake, although this cake is lighter in texture than a pound cake is. It has a subtle vanilla flavor and there is just enough sweetness in the cake to let it shine. You really can’t go wrong – especially if you are a vanilla fan. If I want to boost the vanilla in the cake even more, I might scrape half a vanilla bean into my cake batter along with the sugar, though the vanilla extract does a very nice job flavoring this cake, too.
I like to keep this cake plain and serve it as-is, much as you would with a pound cake. It is quite good on its own and very versatile this way. For instance, you could serve two slices with fresh berries for a take on strawberry shortcake or toast a slice and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If do you prefer your cake a little dressed up, however, you can top it off with a little vanilla (or other flavor) glaze made with confectioners sugar.
I originally put this Vanilla and Lemon Layer Cake together for a friend who loves lemon. It wasn’t a stretch for me since I love to put lemons into baked goods when I have a bunch of them in my kitchen. The cake is made up of three rounds of vanilla cake that are layered together with homemade lemon curd and a lemon cream cheese buttercream frosting. There isn’t quite as much lemon as you would expect to find in a lemon cake (since the cake base is vanilla, after all), but the lemon flavor pops beautifully here and will win over anyone who is a citrus fan.
The cake layers are easy to make and come together quickly. It is easiest to bake them in three 9-inch round cake pans, although if you want to stretch this cake to four layers, you could bake the cakes in two 9-inch pans and split the cakes in half to get that extra layer. The cake is moist, has a soft, tight crumb and a very nice vanilla flavor. It would actually go very well with just about any frosting, if you want to use it as a base for other cake recipes in the future.
While I waited for the cakes to cool, I made a batch of my favorite homemade lemon curd. You could easily use storebought lemon curd in this recipe, but since you’ll want some fresh lemon zest to boost the lemon flavor in the frosting, you’ll probably have some whole lemons on hand for juicing anyway. My lemon curd recipe makes a little bit more than you’ll need to put the cake together. You could cut it in half, although it is easy to find ways to use up a little extra lemon curd.
The lemon curd is spread between the cake layers, and it is also used to flavor some of the Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting that is used as the filling for the cake. The frosting has just enough cream cheese in it to give it that distinctive cream cheese tanginess that goes extremely well with the lemon zest in the frosting. It is a little stiffer than most cream cheese frostings, however, since it uses a lot more butter. This makes it a lot easier to work with when it comes to frosting the finished cake.
The finished cake is beautiful to look at – and even more beautiful when it is sliced into. You get lemon, vanilla and cream cheese in every bite. It’s a great balance of flavors and the overall feeling of the cake is that it is light and almost refreshing to eat. I kept my decorations simple and just added some white chocolate flowers along the sides of the cake to give it a springtime feel. If you don’t want to add too many decorations, just serve yours as-is and it will be a hit as soon as you cut that first slice.
Coconut fans will want to bookmark these Vanilla Coconut Muffins because, although they look plain, they are delicious muffins that deliver a lot of flavor. I happen to be a big fan of coconut myself, and one of my pet peeves about some coconut recipes is that they don’t have very much coconut in them. These muffins don’t fit that mold at all. They are packed with lots of shredded coconut to give you a lot of coconut in every single bite.
Aside from coconut, vanilla is the other dominant flavor in these muffins. I was generous with it, to make sure that it stood out against the coconut and had a real presence in the finished muffin. The muffins are dense and tender, with a very tight crumb (thanks, in part, to all that coconut). The muffins are excellent plain, but are also very good when spread with a little bit of salted butter. These are big muffins with large, domed tops. As a result, they take a little longer to bake than some other muffin recipes might. Be sure to check them with a toothpick to make sure that it comes out clean and the muffins are fully cooked before taking them out of the oven to cool.
I like these muffins as-is, but if you want to put a little spin on them one easy way to do it is by adding some citrus zest into the muffin batter. Lemon, lime and orange all go very well with coconut and a tablespoon of zest will give these a whole new flavor.
Bread pudding can be a surprisingly versatile dish. The combination of custard and bread is easily flavored with all kinds of ingredients. For instance, you can stir in citrus zest, dried fruit, fresh berries or even spike it with a bit of alcohol. The most popular way to dress up a bread pudding, though, is with a strongly flavored sauce and my bread pudding here is no exception. This Vanilla Bread Pudding with Blackberry Sauce is a favorite dessert to make during the summer when berries are in season and
This bread pudding is a little bit lighter than the bread pudding that you might find in a restaurant. This is primarily because I make it with milk (and you can use whole, low fat or even skim), rather than heavy cream. The pudding still has a smooth, rich custard feel and flavor but a lightness that suits the berry sauce. I put in a generous splash of vanilla as well as a pinch of cinnamon, and also added some dried cherries for a little added texture and sweetness. The fresh berry sauce really pops with the vanilla and cinnamon.
You can also make this sauce with blueberries, raspberries or use a combination of those two fruits with the blackberries for a mixed berry sauce. I like a chunky, rustic sauce that has lots of pieces of whole berries in it, but you can purée and strain the sauce if you prefer to eliminate any seeds.