Queen Vanilla: The taste of baking real vanilla

Queen Vanilla: The taste of baking real vanilla

Queen Vanilla Promotion

From a flower that blooms only one day a year, is pollinated by hand and grown in exotic locations around the world, queen vanilla is re-emerging from the nostalgia of sweets from our youth to taking centre stage in patisseries.

Featured in the cakes, biscuits and slices of our youth, vanilla is the taste of home. In the form of extract, this humble brown liquid has been used for generations, but vanilla is not just a flavour; it’s an aroma that can bring pleasure to one’s baking. What do we know of its true taste potential, where it comes from and the growers behind the flower-to-bean process?

With consumers demanding nothing but the real thing and vanilla being one of the most sought-after and expensive spices in the world, we’re thankful a teaspoon goes a long way to creating a magical cake.

A Royal History

Vanilla was discovered by the Totonac Indians in Mexico, where they enjoyed it in ‘chocolatl’ – a drink made from water, ground roasted cacao beans, vanilla and honey.  When the Aztec Emperor Montezuma met Spanish Conquistador Cortez in Mexico with a cup of Chocolatl, astonished by the sweet drink, Cortez returned to Spain with cacao and vanilla beans. It’s an instant success and by the 17th century, the elegant flavour notes of vanilla were savoured amongst European and British royalty, appreciated in custards and decadent cakes that were particularly loved by Queen Victoria.

Up until the 19th century, the Mexican native Melipone bee was responsible for pollinating vanilla flowers. In 1841, Edmond Albius of Réunion developed a technique for hand-pollinating the flowers, paving the way for Madagascar to become the world’s largest producer of vanilla.

Today, vanilla grows around the world, thriving in humid, tropical locations such as Madagascar, Tonga, India and Tahiti.

Harvested by Hand

Vanilla flowers grow on a vine and, once pollinated, produce vanilla beans. These delicate vines are often grown on support trees, known to flex and bend in the cyclonic conditions of these regions, protecting the vanilla vines.

A vanilla flower only blooms once a year, and growers must be quick to pollinate it by hand. One flower will create just one precious bean that must mature for nine months on the vine before being harvested – again, by hand. To release its true flavour and aroma, vanilla must be cured – a process that takes a further nine months. Each day, valuable vanilla beans are laid out by hand in the sun to dry, rotating regularly before being wrapped up at night to heat and cure.

From vanilla beans with anise and cherry flavours found in Papua New Guinea to the more earthy and aromatic beans of Madagascar,  just like exotic varieties of coffee and cocoa beans, a vanilla bean’s flavour varies with climate, curing and growing location. So, how can bakers explore this ingredient – and its different forms and profiles – to see what it can do for their recipes?

Assisting the Vanilla Industry

The vanilla brand we grew up with also plays a pivotal role by ensuring vanilla gets from vine to cake. For decades, Queen has assisted growers in many countries. Queen’s involvement has helped growers obtain organic certification, fund projects to re-establish vanilla plantations and develop programs to teach sustainable farming and curing of vanilla, so farmers receive improved quality and prices for their crops. Queens empowers growers around the world, while educating consumers about real vanilla, ensuring a sustainable quality product for growers and the bakers, chefs, manufacturers and families who use it.

For more than 120 years, Queen’s vanilla has been used in recipes across Australia and New Zealand. Today, Queen’s vanilla products are available in more than 15 countries and used by some of the largest brands in the world. The little red-labelled bottle has grown up and is now active in the professional foodservice market. So, the question is, are you using the right one?

Bean, paste, extract or essence?

Consumers today are more knowledgeable and interested in real food and where it comes from; imitation vanilla and other artificial flavours are no longer seen as desirable in baked goods. Consequently, chefs and bakers turned to vanilla bean pods, with their purity, stronger flavour and visible seeds. This satisfied even the most discerning customer. Although, pleasing their customers was not without the cost, lengthy and labour-intensive process of slitting, infusing and scrapping each bean pod. Chefs soon approached Queen with this problem and Queen Vanilla Bean Paste was created as the solution. No more wasted vanilla, long infusion times and high cost – just the natural taste of vanilla bean pods and seeds, ready to stir through. Simplicity at its best.

When consumers know where ingredients come from, they have a greater connection with the food they enjoy at restaurants, bakeries or home – real natural vanilla from Queen creates this connection for you to capture in your baking for many generations to come.

The Vanilla Family

Queen natural vanilla products are based on century-old techniques to capture the true flavour and aroma of the beans. Queen uses a unique combination of vanilla beans from growers around the world. This gives Queen vanilla
a flavour unlike any other. Queen has developed a diverse range of vanilla products. Here’s the difference between the beans, paste, extract and essence.

A strong, complex flavour profile, rich and dark, with perfectly suspended seeds – it eliminates the need for splitting and infusing vanilla pods. Made from an extract of vanilla beans that is concentrated, plus thousands of tiny vanilla seeds, it can be used in place of essence or extract for a stronger vanilla flavour. It is a must for today’s bakers.

The most pure form of vanilla, bean pods are harvested from the vanilla vine then slowly sun cured, graded for size and plumpness. Queen Vanilla Beans are high grade. Beans can be split and scraped to collect the gelatinous insides that hold all the flavour.

With Queen, Vanilla Essence and Vanilla Extract are the same thing – concentrated natural vanilla. Made by infusing vanilla beans in a mixture of water, alcohol and sometimes sugar, it comes in varieties such as organic, concentrated, syrupy, with seeds and single origin. Queen can help you find the right one for your recipe.

Vanilla Custard Magic Cake

This recipe truly is magical – a simple vanilla custard transforms into a triple-layer cake. Vanilla slice lovers will fall in love with its chewy base, creamy custard middle and sponge layer on top.

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
3 tsp Queen Vanilla Bean Paste
125g butter, melted then cooled
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
2 cups (500ml) milk
Icing sugar, to finish

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced), grease with cooking spray or butter a rectangular brownie pan, approx. 20 x 30cm in size. Use a square cake tin as an alternative.
2. Combine egg yolks and sugar and mix with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until light and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and cooled, melted butter, mix until combined. Butter must be cooled before adding to mixture.
3. Add flour and mix until just combined. Place half of the milk in a microwave safe jug and microwave for 30 seconds until warm. Add remaining cold milk to jug so that the milk is lukewarm. On the lowest mixer speed, gradually add milk to egg mixture in a steady stream, mixing until fully combined.
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the milk mixture using a spatula. Mix until just combined then add remaining egg whites 1/3 at a time. Be careful not to over mix, it’s okay to have some clumps of egg white remaining. The mixture will be the consistency of thin custard.
5. Pour mixture into greased tray, gently smooth the surface with a spatula and bake for 45 minutes. During baking it may puff up at the sides – do not remove from oven, allow to bake the full period. Fully cool in the tin, then refrigerate and cut into squares to serve.

Tempting Vanilla Bean Fudge

This sophisticated, smooth and sweet vanilla fudge recipe uses vanilla bean paste for a sophisticated look and taste. Easy to make and heavenly to eat, it’s a crowd favourite.

395g can sweetened condensed milk
220g caster sugar
125g butter
40ml Queen Glucose Syrup (or corn syrup)
5 tsp Queen Vanilla Bean Paste
200g white chocolate, chopped

1. Grease and line a 16 x 26cm pan.
2. In a saucepan, combine condensed milk, sugar, butter and glucose. Heat on medium until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring continuously, for 5-6 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat, and wait for bubbles to disappear. Add the vanilla paste and stir to combine. When vanilla is mixed through, add chocolate and stir until smooth and no chocolate lumps remain.
4. Pour into prepared pan, cool on bench for 2-3 hours before transferring to refrigerator.
5. Cut into even pieces and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.



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