Tag Archives: vanilla bean paste

Cherry Vanilla Scones

These scones follow the same recipe as the Blueberry Streusel Scones with a few adjustments:

  1. use dried tart cherries instead of blueberries
  2. skip the citrus zest
  3. add 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste with the buttermilk
  4. use vanilla bean glaze after baking, instead of streusel

Vanilla Bean Glaze

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Combine, stirring until smooth:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

2 teaspoons soft butter

Pour the glaze into a plastic bag, cutting off one small corner of the bag to pipe over cooled scones.

I would have taken more pics, but had to FaceTime during the process. They would have looked the same as the pics in the blueberry scone recipe, anyway. As before, this is a scone with a wonderfully tender dough.

Banana Muffins: Martha Stewart

First, I should state that bananas are my favorite fruit. I think that makes me biased toward foods that retain an actual banana flavor without other ingredients overpowering it. It doesn’t mean that I would leave nuts or cinnamon out of banana bread, but sometimes I find simple to be best. Here’s a case in point. These Banana Muffins from Martha Stewart—and you can find a wide variety of banana muffins attributed to her—might have the most authentic banana flavor I have ever had in a muffin, and that’s even with the additions of whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and sour cream. They have a moist cake-like texture, instead of that drier crumbly texture of typical muffins which I love, but they are just so darned good, that as far as bananas go, this is going to be my go-to recipe for muffins. I fought the urge to tinker with the original recipe by adding nuts or cinnamon right up to the end, and then decided to make it a test of the recipe, and it was a good decision.

Martha Stewart Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 12+ muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Find the original recipe here and below: http://www.marthastewart.com/345534/banana-muffins

Preheat oven to 350°; line muffin tin with paper liners.

4 ripe bananas, plus 1 for garnish

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)

  1. Peel four bananas, and place them in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until mashed, about 1 minute.
  2. Add brown sugar, oil, and egg; beat until smooth.
  3. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat until smooth.
  4. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat until combined.
  5. Fill muffin liners three-quarters full. Slice remaining banana into 1/8-inch-thick rounds; place a slice on each muffin.
  6. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes for regular muffins and 20 for mini, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store, covered, at room temperature.

I filled my muffin cups 3/4 full and had enough batter left over to pour into a buttered mini loaf pan. 25 minutes worked exactly for my muffins. I had been concerned that the banana slices would sink into the batter, but they came out just as described.

Panna Cotta with Almond Milk

I had heard the name panna cotta before but never looked into it until I read about it on And She Cooks. The pictures made me look, but I was fascinated to find out that it is like a custard, only made with gelatin instead of eggs. That sounds easier, but then I read elsewhere about people not dissolving their gelatin enough or boiling it to death (literally) so that it doesn’t set. As I write this introduction, I am not confident that mine will set and four hours seems like a long time to wait.

I made a simple raspberry sauce to go on mine—really, it took about five minutes—and grated chocolate to go over that as garnish. I figure even if it doesn’t set up, I can pour it in a bowl and it will be like a sweet soup with raspberries and chocolate.

Voila! It worked.

Panna Cotta with Almond Milk

  • Servings: 6 half cup servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Panna Cotta

This recipe is adapted from “How to Make Panna Cotta” at The Kitchn.

From the original recipe, I substituted a combination of almond milk and half and half, and I used vanilla bean paste* instead of regular vanilla.

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 1/2 cups half and half

3 teaspoons gelatin

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla*

a pinch of salt

I tried to follow the instructions, but was a little put off by the warnings not to boil the milk and gelatin mixture or to boil the milk at all, so I hovered over the pot and was afraid the gelatin might not have completely dissolved. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Measure almond milk and half and half into large measuring cup. Pour about half of it into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Wait 5 minutes.
  2. The surface of the milk really does wrinkle, as the instructions state, so I turned the heat to low and whisked for 2 minutes while the milk warmed.
  3. Add the sugar and continue to whisk and warm the mixture. It did not seem to dissolve as quickly as the instructions stated, but when I saw steam rise from the milk, I did take it off the heat, as instructed, hoping that it was dissolved. I continued to whisk it in the warmed pan for another few minutes, just to be a little more sure.
  4. Add the rest of the milks, vanilla, and salt, whisking until well mixed. See the note below on why you should stick to regular liquid vanilla instead of the vanilla bean paste I used.
  5. Pour into small dishes that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray—I used 6 coffee cups that are part of our dinnerware set, because when else would I use those cups?

Now they chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

*I tried using vanilla bean paste, but it would not suspend in the runny liquid, and the vanilla seeds fell to the bottom of the cups, on top when unmolded. Just use vanilla. Save the paste for an egg custard which is thick before you pour it in molds. It didn’t affect the taste, except that all the seeds are in that one bite at the top.

Quick Raspberry Sauce

2 pints fresh raspberries

2 cups powdered sugar

splash of lemon juice (maybe a tablespoon)

grated chocolate for garnish

Save a few raspberries for garnish, if desired. Add the rest to a small saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice and set the pan over medium heat, stirring as soon as the sugar starts to dissolve. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing the berries with a potato masher, and stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Strain the sauce into a bowl and chill, covered, until ready to use.

Serve over unmolded panna cotta with grated chocolate. I’m going to use bowls, whether the panna cotta has set or not.

And She Cooks is right about what a great dessert this is. It’s simple, but looks fancy, and it tastes great. My husband tried to guess what it was, first guessing custard, one of his favorite desserts. Now I’m trying to figure out all kinds of other things to do with panna cotta.


Quick Banana Bread

I like this banana bread partly because it has no baking powder, which I think in the case of banana bread is too bitter. This recipe only uses baking soda and eggs for leavening and it comes out with just the right sweetness and banana flavor. It is a simple—or quick as the recipe says—and straightforward banana bread with nothing fancy, although I pumped this one up a bit with a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste in addition to a teaspoon of vanilla.

The original recipe comes from a community cookbook called Angels and Friends (1981), from a group affiliated with the Easter Seal Society in Youngstown, Ohio. I also have the second edition (1991), but used the first edition much more. It’s one of those books where members contribute recipes. I have no idea if the recipes are original or not, but I suspect they were just collected by these people or handed down in their families. Remember when there was no Internet? They list four editions of the cookbooks on their site that are apparently still available: http://www.easterseals.com/mtc/get-involved/angels-of-easter-seals-cookbooks/

The first time I made this bread, probably in the 1980s, there was obviously something wrong with it, which I figured out and fixed. Luckily I didn’t just look for another recipe—fixing it paid off. As you can see, I jotted down the fix of salt and vanilla. There are other discrepancies, so I’m guessing the author just forgot the salt, maybe assuming that you always put salt in a sweet bread. The vanilla is my own must-have ingredient. Then she lists shortening in the ingredients, but calls it butter in the instructions. Which is it? Could you use either one? Probably, but I use butter. Butter gives the bread a nice flavor without being oily, but if you like the feel and texture of a quick bread made with oil, I think you could use half butter and half oil.

Quick Banana Bread

  • Servings: 2 4x8 inch loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from “Quick Banana Bread,” Angels and Friends Favorite Recipes cookbook, submitted by Mrs. Nicholas Masters

Preheat oven to 350°

Grease and flour two 4″ x 8″ loaf pans

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or seeds from a vanilla bean

2 ripe bananas (I used 3 small-medium bananas)

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanillas. Add the mashed bananas and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well—this makes a fairly stiff dough. Stir in nuts. Divide into two pans and bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes, checking to see that the edges do not burn.

For such small loaves, and because I am sure to allow my oven to fully preheat, I did not use the toothpick test. I just relied on the appearance of doneness of the edges and the familiar center crack on the top. I think I have made this recipe using one large loaf pan instead of two small ones, but you do need to test the center in that case. I like the smaller ones better for overall texture. I used those disposable (well, I did wash them to re-use a few more times) foil pans, set on a baking sheet.