Discover five ways to use this sweet ingredient in your baking, be it adding depth of flavour to creamy custards or fresh notes to fruit jams.
What is vanilla extract?
Vanilla extract is a staple baking ingredient, traditionally made by macerating vanilla beans in a mixture of alcohol and water. The small amount of alcohol evaporates during cooking, leaving pure flavours suitable in both savoury and sweet dishes.
Littlepod bourbon vanilla extract is a natural flavouring made from Madagascan bourbon vanilla pods, used in sponges, custards and ice creams.
Unlike single-compound, artificial essences, this bourbon vanilla extract is layered with 250 natural aroma compounds, resulting in depth and complexity.
Vanilla extract in custard
Homemade, silky smooth custard is the perfect accompaniment for fruit crumbles, pies and sponge puddings. To make your own at home, you need whole milk, egg yolks, caster sugar, cornflour and vanilla.
Vanilla extract goes further than using whole vanilla pods, and is perfect for adding a fresh-yet-deep flavour.
In homemade custard, vanilla is the only additional flavouring, so you want to use a really high-quality extract to achieve a wonderful flavour.
Vanilla extract in buttercream
Buttercream frosting is a classic way to decorate cupcakes, layered sponges and as a way to sandwich cookies together. Buttercream is a simple combination of butter and icing sugar, however a dash of vanilla extract adds a sweet aroma.
Adding vanilla extract to buttercream is perfect if your cakes are not flavoured with any additional ingredients. It also pairs well and balances out the sweetness from red velvet cakes.
Vanilla extract in jam
Try stirring your homemade fruit jam through vanilla yogurt for added sweet flavours.
Vanilla extract in cheesecakes
New York cheesecake is a creamy dessert that was invented in the 1900’s. The vanilla-based sweet has a buttery, biscuit base and cream cheese topping. Vanilla is the prominent flavour in this cheesecake, so it’s vital to use a pure vanilla extract.
Try serving this indulgent cheesecake with fruit compotes, or fresh berries to cut through the richness.
Vanilla extract in ice cream
Similarly to making vanilla custard, vanilla ice cream calls for the highest quality vanilla extract. Traditionally, vanilla pods are infused with cream, milk and sugar, however a pure vanilla extract is a more economical way of making larger batches of ice cream.
Using a pure extract offers intense flavours and aromas to create the perfect creamy dessert.
Ellie Edwards is a food writer for Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.