Recipe Corner Cooking Techniques

Vanilla - A Global Comforter

VanillaIceCreamOne of the most universally comforting scents is vanilla -- warm, inviting, cozy, uncomplicated. Merely a whiff...  Ah, yes! We're captivated. The aroma of vanilla means something sweet and delightful is nearby.

You'd never guess that this geographically diverse extract has the same root, so to speak. Some people swear by Mexican vanilla, others prefer the kind from Madagascar, but the varying flavor profiles are actually the result of the same plant, just grown in different soils.

We ourselves don't have a particular preference, as long as vanilla remains a constant staple of our baking larders.

However, don't reserve vanilla for baked goodies. Vanilla beans are native to hot climates; let them lend their warm flavor notes to cool desserts, especially summery ice cream, fruit tarts and frozen custard. A few drops of extract will also perk-up icy beverages such as coffees, granitas, tapioca teas and horchata: The extra flavor offsets the watered-down impact of the ice.

Ready for your own vanilla refreshment? Savor a comforting taste of vanilla and seasonal fruit with this classic treat from our Recipe Corner: peach ice cream.