Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Great Holiday Treat: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting...ummm

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon Arizona Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon Arizona Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Danish Christmas dessert

Ris à l’amande
Danish Rice Pudding
Serves 6
This delicious rice pudding is a popular Christmas dessert all over Scandinavia. It usually retains its French name (in Sweden it is known as ris à la Malta) and it has been served on Christmas Eve in many Danish homes for over a century.
You will need:
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean (I recommend a Madagascar vanilla bean, you can purchase vanilla beans at the Arizona Vanilla website.)
½ cup rice (short-grain. Italian aborio rice works quite well)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
1 ½ cups whipping cream

Grease a saucepan with the butter before pouring the milk into it.
Bring to a boil.
Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds into the milk, and add the split bean.

Gradually stir in the rice.
Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes at very low heat.
Stir occasionally and add a little more milk if needed.
Remove from heat, take out the vanilla bean, salt the rice pudding, and let it cool, covered, preferably overnight.
Stir almonds, sugar, and sherry, if using, into the cold rice pudding. Whip the cream until stiff and fold it in carefully.
Refrigerate and serve with a fruit sauce, such as the cherry sauce in the following recipe, or canned fruit.
Some prefer to stiffen their pudding with some gelatin. To do that, dissolve 4 teaspoons gelatin in a little hot water, stir into the still warm pudding along with almonds, sugar, and sherry, and fold in the whipped cream before the pudding begins to stiffen. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Cherry Sauce
Makes ½ cup
This sauce can be served with ris a l’amande and other puddings, or with ice cream. The same recipe can be used for other fruit. Fresh berries, for instance, need only be cooked for a few minutes.

½ cup chopped dried Cherries
¼ cup sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon potato starch or cornstarch
Soak the cherries in 2 cups water for a couple of hours. Turn them into a saucepan with the soaking water and cook them gently until tender. Press them through a sieve and pour them back into the saucepan. Stir in sugar to taste and bring to a boil again.
Dissolve the potato starch or cornstarch in a little cold water, remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately stir in the starch mixture. Stir until slightly thickened. Cool and serve.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Almond, Pine Nut, Apricot Crumb Cake

Try Arizona Vanilla's new almond extract in this great holiday treat.

Almond, Pine Nut, Apricot Crumb Cake

1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted, plus 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, plus 1/4 cup
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon Arizona Vanilla almond extract
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Combine the whole almonds and 1/4 cup pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse the machine until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the nuts to a medium bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer beat the eggs and the sugar until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. Add the butter, and milk. Stir in the Arizona Vanilla's almond extract and apricots. Gently stir in the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sliced almonds and remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts. Bake until the cake is cooked and a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the edges. Turn the cake out, slice, and serve.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Gift Anyone would love

With the Holidays just around the corner we are all trying to think of nice affordable gifts for family and friends, this year I am going to give my friends and family gourmet vanilla extract from Arizona Vanilla, of course, and I am all about cute wrapping I found some cute Christmas organza bags all you have to do is slip in and tie it into a cute bow, attach a ornament and you have a super cute, nice gift. Visit our website at Arizona Vanilla

Friday, December 5, 2008

Moving on up....

...to the east side.... okay so this isn't an episode of the Jefferson's, but we are moving up these days at Arizona Vanilla Company, we've moved production to a warehouse...I know we're a big deal. Patty and Eric have been busy sprusing the place up and it is really coming together, we are especailly excited about setting up a shop area in the office at the warehouse, things are really coming together. When it's all complete I will post pictures. Come check out our new warehouse at 3343 N. Reseda, Suite 26 Mesa, Arizona 85215, here is a link to a map for our warehouse http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tab=wl

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How To Use a Vanilla Bean

How to use the Vanilla Bean: To use the vanilla bean the first thing you need to do is split the bean lengthwise, using a paring knife. Then scrape the seeds free from both sides of the bean with the edge of the knife, and add to whatever it is you are cooking. If you are cooking a sauce, add the pod to the mixture as well. When the vanilla has steeped into the sauce, strain the pod out, but DON'T THROW IT AWAY! Rinse the bean and allow it to dry at room temperature. Bury the used, dry vanilla pods in your sugar for a wonderful vanilla flavored sugar.
Slicing the vanilla bean. Scrapping out the vanilla "caviar" from the inside of the vanilla bean

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Much Vanilla So Little Time

Okay so there are over 100 varieties of vanilla...I know would of thought there were sooo many...but of those there are only three types we use commercially; which are Planifolia, Pompona and Tahitian.

Madagascar / Bourbon vanilla-Bourbon vanilla is the generic name for vanilla species Vanilla Planifolia. Bourbon vanilla has the familiar vanilla flavor we have come to know and love, such as that in ice cream, flavored desserts and drinks. Madagascar Bourbon is the most sought after bourbon vanilla bean and is considered the best. Madagascar has aromas of wood, oil, and leather with wide flat pods.

Mexican Vanilla is a gift of Mexico to the world. Mexican vanilla beans are chocolate brown to black in color, their aroma is clean and delicate.
Tahitian vanilla originates from a hybrid of Vanilla Planifolia and Vanilla Odorata. Now regarded as a different species, it's appearance and flavor is considerably different to planifolia vanilla. Tahitian vanilla is earthly and fruity, with less natural vanillin than planifolia.

Pompona Vanilla is grown in the Antilles and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The vanilla pods are considered of lower quality than either planifolia or tahitian. The beans tend to be smaller, around 3", with less vanillin then the planifolia varieties.
So in a nut shell vanilla is a pretty interesting bean...so many different types and flavors...who would of thought there would be many different uses to this...I didn't, that's for sure.
If you want to get more information on our vanilla beans go to our website at www.arizonavanilla.com