Cooking with Vain Vanilla

You’re So VAIN!

Here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, we LOVE our local makers that we feature in our Kitchen Shop. Chef Jill recently spent some time in the kitchen with one of our makers… Kate Banks, co-founder of Vain Foods and maker of Vain Vanilla. Kate talked about how they make their vanilla and shared a few of her favorite recipes using vanilla!

Vanilla is one of the simplest flavorings to make. There aren’t a lot of ingredients in Vain Vanilla. High-quality prime vanilla beans and top-shelf spirits. But there’s a LOT of work that goes into getting the vanilla beans to this point.

Vanilla beans are the fruit of an orchid plant called Vanilla. There are just a few places in the world, all close to the equator, where these orchids grow. Mexico is one of the places you find these rare orchids, and it’s also where you find the particular kind of bee that pollinates the orchid. Unlikely as it may sound, there is actually about a 20-minute window each year when the orchid can be pollinated to produce the seed that produces the vanilla bean! In other parts of the world where the orchids are found, a method for hand-pollinating the plants has been developed. The bean pods are hand-harvested, then laid out to cure naturally in the sun, massaged by hand while curing, until the pods change color and curl, and the caviar (the tiny black seeds within the bean) get plump. The beans are graded according to color and moisture content. The whole process takes more than a year before the beans are bundled and sent to be used in cooking and fragrances throughout the world.

Vain VanillaKate says they treat the beans with respect and care, splitting the beans a bit to expose the caviar and putting them in amber bottles that protect them from light. They add premium spirits to get the delicious flavors that make their vanilla so special.

While you may think of some of your favorite baking recipes that use vanilla, you probably don’t often think of using it with fish and meat!  Think again…  Kate shared a tasty Salmon recipe using their Vain Vanilla extracted in Kentucky Bourbon. (See recipe below)  She also made Pumpkin Chai Muffins that are going to knock your socks off, and then she wrapped it up Hot Chocolate Cookies. She chose the vanilla flavors that she thinks best compliment each food, but advised that you can feel free to try any of their vanillas with the recipes to see which you prefer. Bottomline, you can’t go wrong with any of them!

Watch the complete video with Kate and Chef Jill in the CCKC kitchen, then scroll down for the recipes to try at home!

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  • Vain Vanilla3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Vain Vanilla extracted in Kentucky Bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 4 (6-oz.) skin-on salmon fillets (such as wild Alaskan)

Whisk together brown sugar, vanilla extract, soy sauce, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Pour into a shallow dish. Place salmon, flesh side down, in sauce. Chill 15 minutes.

Vain VanillaRemove salmon from dish. Place marinade in a saucepan; boil 2 minutes. Place salmon, skin side down, on oiled grates; grill, covered, to desired degree of doneness, 10 to 12 minutes for medium, brushing occasionally with reserved marinade. Place on a platter; top with remaining 1/4 cup scallions and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Click here for printable recipe on Vain Foods website.

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  • Vain Pumpkin Chai Muffins1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon crushed chai tea (from 4 bags)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Vain Indonesian vanilla extracted in Ginger Spirits
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the chai tea. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract, sugar, pumpkin puree and chai butter until smooth. Whisk in the flour, baking soda and salt until incorporated.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and top with the walnuts. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely before serving.

The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Click here for printable recipe on Vain Foods website.

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Hot Chocolate CookiesFor the cookies –

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vain Madagascar Vanilla extracted in Cane Rum
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows

For the glaze –

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vain Madagascar vanilla
  • Sprinkles

For the cookies –

Vain VanillaIn a small sauce pan melt the butter then whisk in the chocolate chips until smooth. Let cool.

Sift together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt).
In a standard mixer combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy. Mix the cooled chocolate into the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and spoon out 1 tablespoon of dough rolled into a ball. Flatten slightly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and top each cookie with 3 mini marshmallows. Bake an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze –

In a medium bowl combine the melted butter, cocoa powder, hot water and vanilla. Sift in the powder sugar and stir until combined.

Lay a piece of parchment paper under the cooling rack holding the cookies. Drizzle each cookie with glaze and, while the glaze is wet, sprinkle with sprinkles. Let glaze set for at least 30 minutes.

Keep cookies in an airtight container.

Click here for printable recipe on Vain Foods website.

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