By Jo Casamento Gerges
The quality of Vanilla bean, extract, paste or essence you use can make or break the flavours of your custards cakes and desserts.
Alternatively using a quality extract or paste or bean can turn a basic crème anglaise, custard or ice cream into a triumph!
This is one of those recipes that does make you do a double take at the initial cost, so let’s break it down a little shall we? If you consider that one good quality vanilla bean can set you back as much as $6 or a store bought small jar of ready made paste is about $10, then buying in bulk and making what ends up being about a years worth ends up being quite cost effective.
This is a recipe you’ll make because you adore vanilla and you want to spend some time putting some lurve into your kitchen! A jar of this heavenly smelling paste makes a wonderful gift too!
The key is by using the whole bean and boiling it and allowing it to ferment over time your paste will become stronger and stronger. In fact the next time you do it you can use the ones from the previous year and over time you paste is not only unique but potent!
The most important thing is to use quality Vanilla Beans.
They should be moist and bendy and not dry. You should be able to bend and twist them and not snap when bent. Contact your local bakery wholesaler or look online you should be able to find quality beans in bulk quantity. Most wholesalers are happy to sell you 250gm lots.
250 gms Vanilla Bean
750 gms castor sugar
750 mls water
Juice half lime
Split vanilla beans open & scrape out contents into a saucepan.
Using a food processor or Thermomix process up the vanilla beans pods after scraping to a smooth paste (might want to add a bit of the water to this to help it along) and add this to the saucepan.
Add 750ml water, 750g white sugar and juice of 1/2 lime to the vanillla seeds and blitzed pods.
Bring to the boil and then turn down heat and simmer for a an hour.
Heat an additional 100g sugar in a dry frypan and allow to go past the toffee stage to a really dark on the verge of burnt (this adds caramel colour to the finished product).
Carefully pour this into the vanilla syrup. Give it a good stir.
If you want a similar consistency as the shop bought stuff mix together 1 tablespoon cornflour & 1 tablespoon tapioca starch/flour with a little water to thin down & then whisk into the vanilla syrup at the last stage.
You don’t have to do this but makes it more viscous in texture.
Pour into sterilized jars, allow to cool before putting the lids on & leave for the flavours to develop for at least 3-4 weeks before using.
Once opened, you must keep refrigerated.