Results tagged vanilla from David Lebovitz

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

marshmallows marshmallows

Some of my favorite candies are marshmallows. Actually, I should backtrack a bit and say at the very top of my all-time favorite things to eat are marshmallows. I love their pillowy softness and their tender sweetness with undertones of vanilla. If it sounds like I’m getting a little Proustian for them, you’re right. I recently made several batches for some projects, which not only rekindled my love of them, but when I brought them to a few parties, people were stunned at how good they were and could not stop raving.

marshmallows

Of course, all compliments are welcome—I’ll take them whenever I can get them. But there’s really nothing complicated about making marshmallows and anyone with a few extra egg whites on hand and a sturdy mixer, can produce world-class marshmallows right at home.

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Atole

atole

My recent trip to Mexico was probably my fifth or sixth in my life and I thought I’d tasted almost everything I could, so it was odd on this trip that I’ve never heard of, or tasted, atole. Although it was served at breakfast in a steaming cauldron, when I asked when people in Mexico drank it, a local chef told me “All the time.”

The consistency is similar to crème anglaise, a pouring custard made with eggs. But since corn always figures prominently in Mexican cuisine and their culture, the drink is thickened with Maizena (corn flour or corn starch.)

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Baking Ingredients and Substitutions

salt & vanilla

Because the question comes up from time to time, I thought I’d answer some questions about making substitutions in my recipes, and swapping out or deleting ingredients.

The short answer is: Ingredients are added to recipes for a specific purpose and there is a reason that they are there. When you substitute or swap out ingredients, results will vary and won’t be the same as mine.

Some may work, and others won’t. And I can’t comment on results unless I’ve tried it myself. The most common request is folks who want to reduce the sugar or fat in a recipe, but in most instances, people are not happy with the final results. So unless you have health issues such as allergies and intolerances, it’s best to stick with the recipe.

One recent change that’s occurred in home baking is the proliferation of “premium” products, such as “European-style” butter, stronger flour (with more protein and gluten), high percentage chocolate, and instant yeast. Using products such as these can alter results and it’s simply not possible to write a recipe that includes variations for each kind of product that might be available in the diverse geographical regions of the world. So it’s up to you to use your best judgement and alter a recipe as necessary, to compensate for the variation in products. (You may wish to consult the manufacturer directly to get further directions on using their product.)

Realizing that people have various dislikes and dietary needs, here are some guidelines you might find useful when using my recipes on the site or in my Books. If you’re looking for more comprehensive information about baking ingredient substitutions, I’ve provided links at the end where you can find answers. Do remember that these are general guidelines and are not applicable to each and every recipe that exists. Home bakers are encouraged to experiment—especially those on restricted or special diets, because they’re often best educated on how to modify recipes to meet their particular dietary needs.

Spices

Spices are interchangeable in recipes. When I come up with spice amounts, they are to my personal taste and that which I think others will like. Reducing 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to 1 teaspoon won’t alter the way a cake or cookie turns out, but it won’t have the same oomph as the ones I did. However not everyone likes, say, cloves or other spices. So if you see a spice in a recipe you don’t like, you can omit it and perhaps dial up one of the other spices or flavors to compensate.

Gluten and Flours

In recipes that call for flour, I mean all-purpose flour. If I mean cake or bread flour, that will be noted. I’m not an expert on gluten-free baking and there are others who are so can’t advise about substitutions with specialty flours. King Arthur carries a gluten-free baking flour that they advise is a good swap for wheat flour. I haven’t used it so can’t confirm, but people who bake gluten-free likely have their own techniques for substituting wheat flour if you don’t wish to use a gluten-free flour mix, such as:

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How to Poach Pears

poached pears

Every year I spend an inordinate amount of my time poaching fruit. It’s usually because I’m powerless to resist all the pears in baskets at my market, and buy far more than I need. Yes, much of my sweet bounty find its way into sorbets, cakes, ice creams, and jams. But one of my favorite ways to keep those pears around a little longer is to poach them.

poaching pears

Poaching is gentle, stove-top cooking, and winter pears are ideal candidates since they keep their shape. Poaching also improves the taste of ho-hum pears. That’s especially good news for you do-ahead folks out there; the longer the pears sit in the flavorful syrup after poaching, the better they’ll taste. Since there isn’t a big variety of fruit tumbling my way in the winter, to get my fruit-fix, I’ll keep some poached pears in the refrigerator and enjoy them diced and mixed with my mid-morning yogurt and granola.

Be sure to start with firm, ripe pears.

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Chocolate Sherbet Recipe

chocolate sherbet

For those of you wondering what the difference between ‘sorbet’ and ‘sherbet’ is, a sorbet has no dairy or eggs in it, and sherbet is usually made with milk or egg whites. Of course, there’s those rogues out there adding a bit of cream or whatever, but that’s the story on that and any variations aren’t authorized by me. And as you know, the ice cream (and sherbet) buck stops here.

(I can just hear all the fingers Googling madly out there, looking for examples to prove me wrong…Talk about setting myself up!)

This Chocolate Sherbet has, you guessed it…a bit of milk added.

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Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

vanilla ice cream

Everyone should have a great recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream in their repertoire. Here’s my favorite, which you can serve with anything, from a freshly-baked fruit pie, a warm berry crisp, or simply smothered with dark chocolate sauce or caramel sauce and toasted nuts.

It’s said that vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream. But most people don’t know that vanilla is also the most labor-intensive of all crops. Because of that, vanilla beans and pure extract are costly. Thankfully, a little vanilla goes a long way. I use both a bean and vanilla extract in my ice cream since I find they’re slightly different flavors and each compliments the other.

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Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

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Click here to find my delicious, classic Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop.

What vanilla should I buy?

salt & vanilla

I sometimes get messages from people pointing me to bargain deals they find on vanilla beans online, but I’m happy to spend a bit more on the top-quality beans that my friend Patricia Rain sources, someone who’s dedicated herself to doing the right thing for the native farmers by working to ensure that the producers she works with get their fair-share of the profits. I suppose it would be different if I was going through a few kilos of vanilla beans a week, but for a couple of beans I split and use per month making Vanilla Ice Cream or adding to a batch of jam, paying an extra couple of dollars per year is money I consider very well-spent. Especially when I pull a slender bean from my stash, roll it around, and take a whiff of the tiny, fragrant seeds that cling to my fingers. The smell of pure vanilla is perhaps the most complex, captivating smell I can think of. We’re often faced with lots of choices in the marketplace.

And when we are, lots of reasons come into play; economics, quality, price, convenience and politics. For most of us, we’re fortunate that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves what each of us wants to do. But often the things we buy do have a direct effect on local economies, and vanilla, being the most labor-intensive and highly-prized crop in the world, has led to a great deal of violence in the regions where it’s cultivated between growers and rustlers. Many less-fortunate people depend on getting a fair-price for their beans, which directly affects their livelihoods.

I’m happy to have a supplier that I respect and trust, and who’s dedicated her life and business to working to ensure her products are both of the highest quality and benefit the growers and producers as well. So each time I take that little brown bottle of vanilla from my kitchen cabinet and take a sniff before adding a few drops to whatever I’m baking, I’m gratified for the wonderful scent she’s given me and happy that a very small amount of something can perhaps have a very positive impact.

vanilla

Visit Patricia Rain and read more about her vanilla and her relationship with the growers at Vanillaqueen.com