Good Vanilla is hard to come by, no honestly, especially when it comes to extracts. A good porition of cheap Vanilla extracts and essences are made from Vanillin and not Vanilla. Vanillin, is often a by-product of whole Vanilla beans but some of it is produced from the bark of trees or is completely artificial. While it is often totally fine to use, and isn’t “bad” for you, it doesn’t get that pure Vanilla flavor that I think a lot baking or sweet recipes need.
Recently, while searching around Etsy I found a local company, Ballard Extracts, who produces plenty of tasty looking extracts, created with baking in mind. They were kind enough to hand deliver one of their extracts, Pure Handmade Vanilla, for me to try out. Their product listings boast organic sourced ingredients; extracts made from organic wheat alcohol using a cold extraction process. You may think of cold extraction more so when you think of cold press Olive Oil. Wikipedia states the following about the cold extraction process; being beneficial to the quality of the product:
“When high temperatures are applied the more volatile aromas are lost and the rate of oxidation is increased, producing therefore lower quality oils. In addition, the chemical content of the polyphenols, antioxidants, and vitamins present in the oil is reduced by higher temperatures.”
This is true for any cold extraction process and not just the cold extraction of oil. This process means that you are getting cleaner, crisper flavors when you purchase extracts from Ballard Extracts. I mean that, you get what you pay for with their Pure Handmade Vanilla Extract. Its naturally sweet, with a nice earthiness that you expect from high quality Vanilla. You know that really really good Vanilla gelato you had with those specks of Vanilla? Well… it tastes like that, pure Vanilla goodness. This Vanilla deserves to be highlighted, so I sat and pondered, what could I make that would showcase this wonderful Vanilla. Well, Dutch Babies of course!
Vanilla Dutch Babies
2 tablespoons butter separated for your pans
1 tablespoon of melted butter for the batter
2 3/8 ounces all-purpose flour, about a heaping 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon of Pure Handmade Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk or Half&Half – room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 pie pans for baking (glass is preferred)
Options for Toppings
– Confectioners Sugar
– Lemon Wedges
– Warm Pure Maple Syrup
– Whipped Cream
– Fresh Fruit Compote
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, place your pans in the oven after the preheat has finished, place a tablespoon of butter in each pan. After the butter has melted and the pans have heated, carefully take a paper-towel or silicone basting brush and evenly disrupted the melted butter.
2) Let your other melted butter cool slightly after melting. While waiting mix your vanilla and sugar into a paste like consistency. This will evenly distribute the vanilla flavor throughout the batter and infused the sugar with its flavor as well. Set aside.
3) Put the flour, vanilla sugar paste mixture, salt, milk, eggs and remaining tablespoon of melted butter into a food processor, blender (honestly I prefer a mixing bowl and my immersion blender for this) and blend for about a minute or less. You want the batter to be thin, and don’t worry if there are a couple small chunks.
4) Take batter and pour it evenly into the preheated and butter pans. For 15-25 mins bake the batter on the center rack of your oven. You want the ‘pancakes’ to puff up and get golden brown around the edges.
5) Cut into even ‘pie’ slices and top with the topping of your choice. I preferred confectioners sugar for this, to let the Vanilla shine.