Vanilla is fresh produce. A fresh vanilla pod stored properly from the time it’s harvested until it reaches you is a completely different kettle of fish to the vanilla essence we all have in the pantry.
Choosing a vanilla pod
When choosing a vanilla pod, it basically comes down to personal taste. But avoid the big-name producers who sometimes leave the pods lying around to dry out. Vanilla pods should feel plump and have an intense smell when you take them out of the packaging.
Three kinds of vanilla
- Bourbon from Madagascar often works best with a classic vanilla flavor that makes room for other ingredients. It’s also the most common version.
- If you want the vanilla to play the starring role in a mousse or panna cotta, Tahiti vanilla can add an exciting, slightly more perfumed scent and flavor.
- The third version, Mexican vanilla, is harder to get hold of.
Bourbon from Madagascar often works best.
– Martin Isaksson, Chokladfabriken
These days Bourbon vanilla pods are also ground into powder, sold in jars. Because the whole pod has been ground, the flavor isn’t as intense as with scraped out vanilla seeds, but the powder works excellently as an emergency solution if you haven’t got a vanilla pod handy. Good to have in the pantry.
Classic custard recipe
Proper custard has very little to do with the instant custard of childhood, and although vanilla is its main flavoring, it has little in common with vanilla yoghurts or other supermarket desserts. Genuine custard is refined luxury.
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
2 tbsps sugar
2 tsp potato starch
- On a chopping board, slice the vanilla pod lengthwise. Turn it inside out and scrape out the seeds with a knife.
- Put the seeds in a saucepan. (Don’t throw the rest of the pod away, see below)
- Add the milk and cream and carefully bring to the boil.
- Once it is simmering, remove from the heat and leave to stand for about 15 minutes.
- Beat in the sugar, egg yolks and potato starch. Stir while heating on a medium heat without letting it boil. Continue until it starts to thicken.
- Pour out and leave to cool. Whip the rest of the cream and stir it in.
Don’t throw out the vanilla pod
After you’ve scraped out the inside of the vanilla pod, don’t throw it away. Put it in a food processor whole with one or two tablespoons of sugar. Run the food processor until you have an aromatic vanilla sugar. Keep in an airtight container in the pantry, not for too long.