Nom, Nom, Nom: Vanilla Nice
Thanks to our True Blood Supper Club, I’ve been spending even more time in my kitchen.
Am I sad?
I look forward to spending Sundays with my friends, and tasting the dishes they prepare for our gatherings. I’ve hosted two Supper Club nights so far, and it’s been fun planning the menus. I’ve especially enjoyed making the desserts.
When you bake a lot, you never really pay attention to ingredients that you use on a regular basis. Well, that’s been my experience for the most part. You know you’re going to crack a few eggs, cream some butter and dump in some sugar. That’s usually the holy trinity of baking. But lately, I’ve been paying more and more attention to vanilla beans and vanilla extract. I used to just buy imitation vanilla extract because that’s what I grew up on. It was much cheaper, and you got more in the bottle. But I stopped being cheap and started using the real deal. And I’m glad I did.
I made two desserts recently that really put vanilla in the spotlight. One dessert was peach and vanilla puff pastry pies, and the other was a grownup version of cookies and milk. I found the peach and vanilla puff pastry pie recipe in the August issue of the gospel according to O. And the “milk” in the grownup cookies and milk combo was actually a spiked vanilla milkshake. I found that recipe on 20something cupcakes. Both of these recipes were simple, and the end results were crowd pleasers.
Here are the recipes:
Peach and Vanilla Puff Pastry Pies
Source: O Magazine
1 vanilla bean pod, halved lengthwise
3 large peaches (about 1 pound), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2″ chunks
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 (9″ x 16″) pieces frozen puff pastry, thawed but still very cold
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Preheat oven to 400°. Run a paring knife down the cut sides of the vanilla bean to remove the vanilla seeds, and transfer to a large bowl. (Discard vanilla bean pod, or save for another use.) Add peaches, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and toss until well combined; set aside.
Working on a sheet of parchment paper, cut 1 piece of puff pastry in half, and then roll each half into a 10-inch square. Using a bowl, glass, or cookie cutter, cut 4 (4 1/2″) circles out of each half. Use the circles to line the cups of 8 muffin tins, positioning them to form little pie shells or baskets. Save any remaining dough scraps to re-roll and use for step 4, as needed.
Spoon peach mixture evenly into the muffin cups lined with the puff pastry shells; set aside.
Arrange remaining pastry on a sheet of parchment paper and cut out 8 circles, approximately 3 inches in diameter. Place 1 on top of each muffin cup, folding the edges of the bottom pastry over the top and pinching tightly to seal each pie.
Bake until pies are puffed and deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully run a paring knife around the edges of each pie and immediately transfer to a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe was fairly easy to make. I decided to use turbinado sugar instead of regular sugar. I also used a combination of white and yellow peaches for the filling, and added about a tablespoon of dark rum to the mixture. The pies turned out well, and I served them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I suggest that if you try this recipe, cut the baking time down to 25 minutes or so. I baked them for 35 minutes and they were a little browner than I wanted them to be. I baked another batch of these the next day, and found that they were perfectly golden brown at 25-28 minutes. Also, make sure you keep your puff pastry ice-cold. It’s hard to work with when it’s at room temperature, so if you find that it’s sticky and hard to roll out, pop it back in the fridge for a few minutes. It should be good to go!
For the Milkshakes:
4 cups of good vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Jim Beam, or other Bourbon whiskey
Bailey’s Irish Cream
In a blender, combine all milkshake ingredients until smooth. For thicker milkshakes, add less milk. For thinner shakes, simply add more milk.
You probably think that making a milkshake is not rocket science, and you would be correct. But I’ve had some pretty disappointing shakes over the years. Some were watery, others were like a milk Icee and some tasted really artificial. This is a very solid milkshake recipe. It’s creamy, super delicious and very grownup. I didn’t use an expensive ice cream either. I used some French vanilla ice cream from Aldi. And I spiked the milkshakes with dark rum. The rum really complimented the vanilla. I served the shakes in chilled martini glasses and garnished them with some freshly ground nutmeg.