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Yes, Please: Vanilla

The word vanilla is often synonymous with things that are boring and dull, but I’ve found through my recent cooking and baking experiments that adding this little ingredient makes a world of difference.

Adding a little extra from what a recipe calls for suddenly makes the flavor just pop and explode in your mouth.

I tested this theory out around Christmas, when I brought in a batch of sugar cookies made with my grandma’s secret recipe (it might be the worst kept secret since she willingly shares it with anyone who asks), but in my version I amped up the vanilla to a little over double. Having eaten the “recipe” version my entire life, I could tell a difference and wondered if my co-workers would too, so I ended up making a second batch of different shapes with the original recipe and brought in a mixture of both to share.

Everyone seemed to enjoy both kinds of cookies without noticing anything different about them, w and at first I thought my little experiment had been a waste of time. Until a little later in the day when passing by the break room table, I think one co-worker might have actually groaned in food bliss, then promptly absconded with the rest of that batch, which happened to be the extra vanilla ones.

I was pleased to see such enjoyment come from something I had spent time on, and that my theory about vanilla had been proven somewhat correct by at least one other person.

With my newfound love of this flavor in mind, it only seemed natural that when asked by my mom what I’d like her to bring back from their Mexico vacation (as a thanks for watching the cats) my response would be fresh vanilla beans.

She surprised me with not only a few beans to experiment in the kitchen with, but an assortment of different color (light, dark, clear) vanilla in bottles. Thanks a bunch Mom!

I can’t wait to start baking with my new treats, and figuring out fun ways to use the vanilla beans.

Maybe some vanilla sugar? A spoonful of that over my morning cream of wheat sounds delightful.

Or I could try my hand at making my own vanilla infused vodka– a shot of that into a root beer float could make a world of difference, and turn this classic into an adult beverage. I’m willing to try it out in the name of science of course. 🙂

The possibilities are endless with how I can test out my vanilla baking skills, and I’m eagerly waiting for my next day off so I can start.

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