Think of Making a Twinkie that Serves You and Nine Friends, This Vanilla-Inspired Cookbook Reveals RecipeTuesday, October 9th, 2012
Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques by Shauna Sever (Quirk, $22.95)
The history of the vanilla bean is every bit as rich and complex as its flavor. When Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes dined with Aztec emperor Montezuma in 1519, they sipped a form of hot chocolate made with vanilla beans. By the 1600s, vanilla was finding its way into European desserts. Thomas Jefferson, while U.S. Ambassador to France, was so impressed with the flavor, he packed some vanilla beans in his suitcases when he returned to America. His vanilla ice cream recipe is still a part of the Library of Congress collection in Washington. We all know vanilla is popular but did you know it is four times more popular than chocolate? I didn’t either.
Americans do, indeed, love vanilla. In fact, as a nation we consume roughly half of what is produced globally. This delicious new cookbook pays appropriate homage to this wonderful, flavorful spice. Part history primer, part cookbook, Shauna Sever serves up 80 recipes supplemented with the mouth-watering photography of Leigh Beisch.
The recipes are grouped into six basic chapters: Breakfasts; Cakes and Pies; Cookies and Bars; Candies and Confections; Custards and Creams; and Drinks. There are also pages devoted to vanilla in all its forms, vanilla origins, varieties, and tasting notes, and interesting facts such as why vanilla is so expensive, how long whole beans will last, and what it means when a vanilla labels says two-fold, three-fold, four-fold, etc.
I tested three recipes from this collection, a Twinkie Bundt Cake that was essentially an enormous version of the iconic American snack cake, a batch of Vanilla Bean Meringue Kisses and a personal favorite of Shauna Sever, and taking a little inspiration from Thomas Jefferson, “Favorite Vanilla Ice Cream.” The ice cream included an unusual ingredient, sour cream, and used both the whole bean as well as extract. For the extract, I used Mexican vanilla which I think is superior and has a more authentic taste than other types.
This is a fun cookbook that contains accessible, tasty recipes certain to trigger ideas for the approaching holiday season.
TWINKIE BUNDT CAKE
For the cake
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbs baking powder
¾ tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract (I used Mexican extract)
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable coil
3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
For the cream filling
1 7.5-oz jar marshmallow crème
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust it lightly with flour.
Sift together, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until evenly mixed, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in oil. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and egg tolks, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Stir in flour mixture and buttermilk in three alternating additions, ending with the buttermilk, and continue to mix at low speed until batter is smooth and no lumps remain. Turn off mixer and fold batter several times by hand to ensure everything is well incorporated, and then pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until cake is golden, the top springs back when lightly pressed, and a cake tester when inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
For the filling: In the bowl of the electric mixer, beat together marshmallow crème, vanilla, and butter until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.
With the cake still in the pan, use a paring knife or an apple corer to cut 6 or 7 deep holes into the bottom of the cake, each about ¾ inch in diameter, be careful not to cut through top of cake. Discard cake scraps. With your fingers, gently burrow a horizontal tunnel around the center of the cake, connecting the vertical holes.
Insert the tip of the pastry bag into each hole and squeeze in filling, tilting pastry bag back and forth as you work to encourage filling into the horizontal tunnel through the cake. When the cake is filled, use a spatula to scrape away excess filling from the bottom of the cake. Quickly and carefully invert cake onto a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve.
This cake is a little complicated to turn out but is well worth the extra time and effort.