Vanilla Essence + Bean Paste: Honestly Yum, Desser...

Vanilla Essence + Bean Paste: Honestly Yum, Desserts with Benefits and Fork & Flour

Certain recipes just yearn for the subtle flavours only a vanilla essence bean can offer – and those telltale black specks add that little something special.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract has to be one of the easiest things to make yourself – all you need is liquor and premium quality vanilla beans.

This recipe uses three types of beans: Madagascan for its rich and creamy flavour, Tahitian for its floral, chocolate aroma, and Mexican for its bold and smokey essence. It does take a couple of months to cure, so plan ahead.


Whole vanilla beans, paring knife + funnel

Alcohol. We used Bullet Bourbon, Absolute Vodka and The Kraken spiced rum to complement the flavour profile of each type of vanilla bean – but you can use the one alcohol. Most recipes recommend vodka.


1. Use a paring knife to split the vanilla beans lengthwise down the middle. Cut the beans in half.

2. For every 120ml of alcohol, use two vanilla essence beans. Insert the beans into the bottle and fill with alcohol. We paired Madagascan beans with bourbon, Tahitian with vodka and Mexican with rum.

3. Seal with the cap, shake and add a label. Set in a dark, cool place and shake occasionally (every couple of weeks).

4. Store for at least two months.

Vanilla Bean Paste

More potent than vanilla essence extract, bean paste is speckled with the luxurious beans straight from the pod. Work at a 1:1 ratio to replace the store-bought stuff and you can trace your vanilla from the farm to the flan.


6 vanilla beans

1 tbs + 1 tsp vanilla extract (see recipe on page 56)

0.5 cup agave nectar (or vegetable glycerine for a sugar-free version)


1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

2. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the mixture inside

3. Press on the vanilla bean ‘pulp’ to get as much liquid out as you can. Pour the vanilla paste liquid into a jar and seal tightly. Store in the fridge.

Double Vanilla Dream Cake

Showcase your made-from-scratch bean paste in light dream cake, with added syrupy goodness to keep it moist for up to five days.


For the Cake

300g soft butter, room temperature
300g extra fine cane sugar
6 eggs, lightly whisked
410g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
6 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vanilla bean paste

For the Syrup

150ml water
115g extra fine cane sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, slit lengthways and extracted


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a round spring pan with butter, then line the sides of the pan with a sleeve of baking paper so the cake can rise to double the height of the cake.

2. Cream the butter, add sugar and stir until the mixture is fluffy and light. Add the eggs little by little. Sieve in flour and baking powder, add salt and stir to combine.

3. Carefully fold in milk and vanilla bean paste. Fill the mixture into the pan and bake for 1.5 hours on a low heat. Insert a needle to see if the cake is done.

4. For the syrup, heat water, sugar, vanilla bean paste and vanilla bean in a small pan, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.

5. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pierce with a long needle or skewer a few times, all the way through to the bottom of the cake. Spoon by spoon; baste the cake with the vanilla syrup. You can do this while it’s still in the pan and hot. Make sure the cake soaks up the liquid.

6. Let the cake cool completely before removing from the pan.

7. This cake can be served for up to five days after baking, as the syrup keeps it nice and moist.

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