The Vanilla Conspiracy

by Michelle on February 15, 2009

I am so tired of flavoring everything with vanilla. Looking back over the years, I’ve used jugs of the stuff. I’ve tried the popular and exotic varieties Mexican, Madagascar and Tahitian. And I even tried the natural route with scraping vanilla beans, grinding vanilla beans and even making my own vanilla. Frankly I can’t tell the difference any more. It’s all just plain vanilla to me.

Lately I’m finding some recipes calling for 2 tsp upwards to 1 TBL vanilla. And it does not stop with just baking, there’s vanilla body cream, vanilla lotion, vanilla flavored lip gloss and vanilla scented candles! I guess if we do not ingest enough vanilla, we can now absorb it through our skin too? But when I discovered Vanilla Salt, it all began to make sense.

Is OVEC (Organization of Vanilla Exporting Countries) controlling this substance, increasing the varieties and potency until we are all addicted and dependent? Is Area 51 really a hydroponic vanilla farm? Could vanilla be the intricate thread that weaves a One World Government? Is the Catholic Church involved? The Masons? Maybe Martha? What’s the significance of the mysterious “V” on the one dollar bill?

Well, I’m not going to be fooled any longer and I’m standing up and just saying NO to vanilla! It’s time to start the weaning process and try something new! And I’m pretty sure you have some wonderful possibilities within arm’s reach in your own kitchen.

Fruit Juice — Some fruit juices (for citrus fruit see below), apple, pomegranate, cranberry, prune, cherry, pineapple, peach etc, must be reduced due to the amount of water in the juice. In a small sauce pan add 1 c. of fruit juice. Over low heat simmer until juice is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Juice reduces quickly and due to the natural sugar content can burn so do not leave unattended and keep the burner LOW. Cool before adding to any recipe. For most recipes I add at least 1 TBL reduced juice and sometimes end up using all the reduction! A reduced fruit juice does not keep long so only make as much as you can use at any given time.

Citrus — I use fresh Orange, Lemon and Limes and juice them. I use 1 TBL citrus in most recipes. I also add zest to the recipe to increase the flavor. And by zest I mean I zest the entire fruit and use all of it.


Cider — A true cider is unfiltered, cloudy and should be much thicker then juice. So it’s already somewhat concentrated but you still need to reduce for use in a recipe. Use the same reduction recipe as for Fruit. Reduced apple cider will add an explosion of flavor and is wonderful in donuts, pancakes and frostings, and very good in Carrot Cake!

Waters — Rose, Orange or Kewra waters are fabulous. I use them often in frostings. I start with 1 tsp Rose, Orange or Kewra Water and add more if need be. Although the flavor is somewhat subdued, it adds the most heavenly aroma. Essence stands up better in baking but the concentrate varies per brand so I would start with a 2-3 drops and adjust for taste.

On a side note, I have a shaker of Rosewater on my table when we having “finger” food such as corn on the cob, french fries, tacos or ribs. It nice to sprinkle a bit of rosewater on your hands to refresh after dinner and your guests will forever remember your table.

Syrups — Of course the first syrup that comes to mind is Maple Syrup which is so good and my Dad’s favorite! But if using some commercial syrup brands read the labels carefully. The titles sound so intriguing but pomegranate syrup does not really taste like pomegranate and it’s best to reduce the juice and make your own. But some of the varieties do sound intriguing, Toasted Marshmallow for instance. If a syrup passes my taste test, I begin by adding 1 tsp at a time, until I’m happy with the overall taste. Watch at Tuesday Mornings, Homegoods and TJMax and you can pick up bottles of flavored syrup for $3-5.

Vinegar — I use balsamic vinegar in place of vanilla in any chocolate baked good and LOVE IT! If your willing to give it a try, I use 1 TBL Balsamic Vinegar per recipe. If I’m in a real feisty mood I will use 1-2 TBL!


Liqueurs — Oh these are the most fun and the varieties seem endless. Lately the markets seem on overload with new liqueurs or maybe I’ve just finally noticed! I rarely ever shopped in a liquor store before, but now I look at it as a treasure hunt. I love to find the 1 lone, dust-covered bottle of some obscure liqueur pushed way in the back and beyond reach. It’s like finding gold! In most recipes I’ve used 1 TBL Liqueur, but taste it and if you think it needs more add 1 tsp at a time.

Last year my husband gave me a bottle of Nocello Walnut Liqueur for Christmas. I sat the bottle in my kitchen, savoring the perfect day to open it. Finally, when that day came, the smell was intoxicating and the taste is beyond description…sort of like buttery walnuts but not quite. I save the Nocello for very special occasions, like my V-day brownies!

Dark Rum — YUMMY and one of my favorites. If the recipe calls for vanilla try using 1 TBL Dark Rum and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It is delicious! Dark Rum is especially good in flans and puddings and in browned-butter frosting…to die for!

Infused Liquor — I’ve been looking for Gran Centenario Rosangel, a hibiscus-infused Tequila. Doesn’t it sound wonderful! So far no luck in my area but maybe next Christmas I’ll put it on my list! Even if this does not work out for a recipe, how refreshing does a Hibiscus Margarita sound! I want one now!



Next on my list is corn syrup…it’s in everything!

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Comments

  • Natashya KitchenPuppies February 15, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I had no idea of the vanilla conspiracy… are they behind me right now? (looks over shoulder nervously..)It is fun to shake it up a bit flavour-wise.. I like cardamom for a woody smoky sweetness.

  • Lucy..♥ February 15, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I like my vanilla, however I do not stop there. One of my favorite places to go for more flavor in my liqueurs were Rum, Brandy, Schnapps, etc can be found 😉

  • angela@spinachtiger February 16, 2009 at 3:59 am

    What do I do. My favorite icecream is still…you guessed it….VANILLA. But I LOVE it with a really good balsamic vinegar. Excellent post…made me think I need to buy some liquors and experiment.

  • Katie February 16, 2009 at 5:01 am

    What a clever post! It made me laugh :) You make a good point.

  • Katiecakes February 16, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    What a brilliant post! I’ll certainly be trying a few of your alternatives. I’m a bit sick of plain old vanilla too :)Katie xox

  • Stef February 16, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Love this post. I have built up quite a collection of extracts to try to use things other than vanilla. One thing I like to do is to buy soda concentrates and use them – lots of flavors to choose from there.

  • Michelle February 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Stef…you of all people do not need encouragement to try new things! I still have a list of ideas from your blog to try myself! Love the idea of the soda concentrates…that’s a new one for me! I think I will buy some…oh I don’t know, maybe NOW!

  • Kathleen February 17, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Interesting post, Michelle..you go girl, down with vanilla! :)

  • Mimi February 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I <>knew<> there was something fishy going on… vanilla, I got my eye on you.

  • Rose Campion February 17, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I like to use almond extract in place of vanilla. I also have some butter rum extract that is sometimes really good instead of vanilla.

  • Teanna February 17, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    hahahahah fantastic post!!! Area 51 is totally packed with pods of vanilla, I’m sure of it! That’s why they can charge so much!

  • Anonymous February 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Vinegar with chocolate recipes? I never tried that! What could it possibly taste like? I just read another website that chocolate stout beer cakes have a nice malty tang to them, gotta try that for St. Patty’s soon.

  • Michelle March 7, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Accidently posted on my Test Blog:Irene has left a new comment on your post “The Vanilla Conspiracy”: This really cracked me up. We do use quite a bit of vanilla around here, but I’ve held out against anything non-food related (like candles, lotions, perfume, ick). Lately, I’ve just been replacing vanilla with anything from my liqueur cabinet! (It’s worked out). :) Thanks for the Great Vanilla Rebellion!

  • Martha May 8, 2009 at 4:52 am

    What a great post! I usually have to fight the urge to put lemon in everything!

  • natalia May 8, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Ciao ! I love your post !! Actually I run out of vanilla some time ago and simply didn’t add it to my baking lately. I love the citruses as a flavouring and I agree there is too much vanilla everywhere !

  • katrina May 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    You certainly made me stop and think! Nope, no vanilla overload here, tho I do like it in a very few cakes & cupcakes. Love your suggestions for flavors ( other than…), where do you find your orange and rose waters? I’ve been having trouble finding these around here.

  • foodrenegade.com May 8, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Mmm. I love some of your alternate ideas, particularly infused liquers.

    I made my own apricot infused vodka not long ago, it came out tasting like a thick, rich brandy. It was heavenly!

    Thanks for sharing this in today’s Fight Back Fridays carnival.

    What fun!

    Cheers,
    KristenM
    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  • Nancy May 8, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I am addicted to vanilla. BUT, I only use it in food! I will be adding balsamic to my next chocolate project and am glad to hear you think that is a good idea, too.

  • Lisa May 11, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Funny! I do like vanilla and if I am going to add it I tend to add a lot. But I agree, there are other flavors and everything doesn’t need that added bit of standard vanilla flavoring.

    Also, while I like the smell of vanilla in the kitchen I don’t want it on my body in the form of lotions.

    So I’m with ya…. with a wink and a smile!

    That corn syrup thing, now that’s true and not even funny.

  • harcoutbreton May 29, 2009 at 2:47 am

    wakekeke… you missed vanilla sugar… omg vanilla invasion is just around the corner…

  • The Vanilla Conspiracy September 20, 2010 at 1:24 am

    […] Click here to continue. […]

  • Mary J December 18, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Thanks for all the info on other flavorings. I need to unglue myself from using vanilla with everything.

  • Judy December 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    LOL, Michelle!

    I agree with you. Thanks for the ideas. You are so creative!

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