I’m more of a planner than a doer. When I see a recipe I like, or think of a food I’d like to try, or a restaurant I want to go to, I will usually think about it for a few days or weeks before acting on it (sometimes making elaborate plans in the process).
Vanilla beans have been on that list for years. Whenever I see a recipe that calls for scraping a vanilla bean, I get excited. But whenever I look wistfully at vanilla beans in the store, the price tag is enough to keep me from getting them this time. And since I never have them on hand, I never cook with them.
Then Marisa over at Food in Jars posted a how-to on using vanilla beans, and it was like she was talking directly to me. I was that person who kept avoiding them because they’re expensive and intimidating, and she linked to a couple websites where you can buy vanilla in bulk so cheaply that it would be a crime not to buy it.
So I took the plunge, and now I’ve got 40 vanilla beans in 4 varieties (which is approximately 40 more than I’ve ever owned before), and only a couple fledgling ideas of what to do with them. It’s a whole new territory in baking that I’ve never visited before. So I’m looking for help: what should I try? Do you have favorite ways to use vanilla beans? Favorite recipes?
My first thought is to scrape one and mix it with the mascarpone I’ve got in the fridge, and eat it with strawberries. It should be hard to go wrong with that.