This post is from Kris. It’s part of the Christmas package we’re giving to friends this year.

Tahitian Vanilla Beans are prized for their traditional vanilla flavor and are perfect for pastries and other sweet treats. Vanilla moleculeThese beans that Santa has brought you are from Papua New Guinea, and the resulting extract is smooth and aromatic. It stands alone or can be used to complement other flavors.

Store your Tahitian Vanilla Extract in a cool, dark place. When the extract is gone, you can remove the bean pod to use its tiny seeds in one of the recipes below — or refill the bottle using one teaspoon dark rum and the rest vodka. Allow to sit for six weeks before using.


Vanilla extractDesserts
Vanilla Hazelnut Poundcake
Butterscotch Cookies
Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
Sweet Vanilla Risotto
Vanilla Cream Cupcakes

Warm Vanilla Bourbon Apple Cider
Rhubarb Soda Syrup
Warm Vanilla Milk

Small-batch Strawberry-Vanilla Jam
Vanilla-Scented Applesauce
Chocolate Whipped Cream
Classic Vanilla Cream Scones

Longitudinal section of a vanilla flower

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

6 Tablespoons butter (unsalted)
1 cup sugar or Vanilla Sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 vanilla beans
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Place shortening, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and butter in a large bowl. Beat until smooth with electric mixer.
  2. Split the vanilla beans, and scrape seeds into the bowl.
  3. Whisk in egg until blended.
  4. Sift dry ingredients into bowl, stirring just until blended.
  5. Roll dough into roughly 2 inch tall log. Chill until firm (minimum 4 hours).
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Cut dough into 1/4 inch discs. Cover each side of disk with remaining sugar.
  8. Arrange cookies onto non-greased pan roughly 1/2 inch apart.
  9. Bake until sides are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes.

Warm Vanilla Bourbon Apple Cider

Serves 6 adults

6 cups apple cider
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 whole nutmegs
6 ounces Bourbon
Whipped Cream

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine ingredients. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and remove nutmegs.
  3. Divide among 6 heatproof glasses and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Vanilla Cream Cupcakes

Makes 12

6 ounces butter, room temperature
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Vanilla Cream Frosting
1-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 315 degrees and grease a 12-cup cupcake tin.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy.
  3. Add eggs and beat well.
  4. Add the flour and baking powder and fold into the butter mixture to combine.
  5. Spoon into the cupcake tin and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the tin for 4 minutes, then remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. To make the frosting, whisk cream and vanilla until very thick and stiff peaks form.
  7. Slice each cake in half (horizontally) and spread with cream in the center and frost the top as well. Chill until ready to serve. Serve within 4 hours.

Sweet Vanilla Risotto

Serves 4-6

3-1/4 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped for adding
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk (extra)

  1. Place the milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and heat for 5 minutes or until hot but not boiling.
  2. Place the butter in a separate saucepan over medium heat and allow to melt. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until it becomes translucent.
  3. Remove the pod from the milk. Add the hot milk, a cup at a time to the rice, stirring 5-6 minutes between additions, until the liquid is fully absorbed and the rice is al dente (this can take a while).
  4. Stir through the sugar, cream and extra milk. Allow to rest for 2 minutes, then spoon into bowls and serve immediately.

Can be sprinkled with vanilla or brown sugar to serve.

Warm Vanilla Milk

For a soothing drink, warm milk in a saucepan over low heat. Flavor with a bit of honey and vanilla extract to taste.

Small-batch Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

Makes 1 cup

1 pound fresh strawberries berries, stems removed
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)

  1. Clean berries and slice. Toss with sugar. Add lemon juice and vanilla (plus seeds if using) and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. In a wide skillet, bring jam mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until syrupy and sheets from a spoon.
  3. Store in the refrigerator and use within three weeks.

Rhubarb Soda Syrup

Makes 2 cups syrup, about 12 cups rhubarb soda

2 cups water
2 cups chopped rhubarb stalks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 liter seltzer water

  1. Bring the water, rhubarb, sugar, and vanilla bean to boil in a saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half and the rhubarb falls apart, about 15 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Cool. (Freeze up to 6 months.)
  4. To use, fill a pitcher with ice, pour in seltzer and add 1 cup of syrup. Stir to combine.

Butterscotch Cookies

Makes 30 — Best made a day ahead to allow flavors to develop

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

14 Tablespoon (1-3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease two cookie sheets, or line them with silicone mats.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. (I used my stand mixer for this.)
  4. Add the egg, dry milk, and vanilla extract, and beat to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients, and beat to blend. Fold in the pecans by hand.
  5. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each mound.
  6. With damp fingers, press each mound into a circle about 2 ½ to 3 inches in diameter.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  8. Carefully scrape up the cookies with a spatula, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Vanilla-Scented Applesauce

2-1/2 pounds apples (8-9), peeled, cored, and cut into chunks

apple juice or cider
sugar or honey to taste

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice 

  1. Place diced apples in a large saucepan and add cider/juice to a depth of about an inch.
  2. Simmer with the lid on just until tender, adding more juice if necessary.
  3. When cool, run through food processor or blender, or mash with a fork until a sauce is formed.

Add sugar or honey if needed (sometimes the juice will make the sauce sweet enough), and add vanilla extract and spices.
  5. Serve warm or cold.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

Makes 2 cups

To one cup of whipping cream, add:
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  1. Stir to dissolve and chill 30 minutes, then whip until of desired texture.
  2. After whipping, fold in 1/2 tsp. each of almond and vanilla extracts.

Vanilla Hazelnut Poundcake

Make two days ahead

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1-3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs
2 cups cake flour
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped & toasted
powdered sugar for sifting over cake

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-cup tube pan.
  2. Cream together the butter and cream cheese until it is light, creamy and fluffy. Add sugar a little at a time, until the mixture is combined well, and is very pale yellow in color. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract.
  3. Stir 2 cups of cake flour in a bowl to reduce any lumps. Stir, do not beat, into the cream cheese mixture. Stir in hazelnuts.
  4. Pour into pan and bake for 90 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. DO NOT OVER-BAKE.
  5. Let cake cool on rack for 10 minutes, in the pan. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Let cake cool completely.
  6. Cover and store at least two days before cutting. Cake travels well and can be stored up to one week. Can also be frozen.

Classic Vanilla Cream Scones

Makes 8

9 ounces flour, about 1 3/4 cups
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 egg yolks (save one egg white)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In food processor, blend dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal.
  3. Whisk together the cream and yolks and vanilla extract. Add to butter mixture and process just until combined.
  4. Knead gently to gather into a ball on a floured surface; don’t over-knead. Pat into a round 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.
  5. Cut into 8 wedges. If desired, brush the scones with an eggwash made of one egg white mixed with a bit of cream or milk and sprinkle with extra sugar.
  6. Place the separated wedges on a baking sheet and bake 18-22 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Serve warm with butter and jam.

5 Replies to “Vanilla Extract Recipes”

  1. SteveQ says:

    Thanks for putting my OCD reading list in your miscellaneous flotch!

    I see the photo of vanilla extract used in this post is Madagascar, not Tahitian vanilla (about 1/5 the price). Few would notice the difference between different types of vanilla – Tahitian is slightly more flowery – I’d reserve the rare Tahitian vanilla for items that have no other flavorings.

  2. luneray says:

    vanilla risotto? OMG. I’m drooling…

  3. Colleen says:

    Making your own vanilla is also insanely easy. I buy a pound of Grade B organic vanilla beans (less than $30 typically) on eBay and a litre of cheap Vodka (I use Absolut, $20 at Costco). I pour about 8 ounces of vodka out of the bottle and add almost all of the pound of vanilla beans after I have split them. Put it in a dark place for about 4 months. I go through about 1 litre per year in my own baking and have another bottle that I use for gifts (I purchase cobalt blue bottles from SKS and package it myself without filtering it). I refill the bottle one or two times without doing anything to the beans before they have no more flavor. I also will use the beans for seeds in recipes…once they have soaked in the vodka, it is very easy to just pull one out and squeeze the seeds directly into your recipe.

  4. Colleen says:

    Oops, forgot to say I also make vanilla with rum instead of vodka. Absolutely outstanding in any chocolate recipe!

  5. Kim says:

    The picture of my boys made me smile. Thanks for the flashback in time.

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