Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gourmet Valentine’s Day with Vanilla

 I really love this brand of Vanilla, and I think these treats would be delicious -- they sound very straightforward to make, too.


Make it a Gourmet Valentine’s Day with Vanilla  
Waukegan, Ill. (January 31, 2012) – What does the perfect Valentine’s Day treat consist of? Vanilla – even most chocolate confections and desserts use vanilla to enhance the chocolate flavor.
“Vanilla is often the overlooked and underestimated ingredient in recipes, yet it has a rich history and hundreds of complex flavors,” said Shauna Sever, author of Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques. “I recommend using high-quality pure vanilla, such as Nielsen-Massey, for the best results.”
Edible gifts are a go-to for many Valentine’s Day gift-givers, and are even more heart-felt when homemade. Sever recommends including vanilla in these Valentine’s Day treats, and keeping them sweet and simple. Ideas include:
  • Combine one cup maple syrup with two teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to top off a sweet Valentine’s Day breakfast.
  • Make a traditional meringue recipe and instead of piping dollops, spell out LOVE. Add Nielsen-Massey’ Pure Orange Extract for a splash of flavor.
  • Whip one cup of heavy whipping cream, adding two teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Coffee Extract and 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar for a lovely touch to a morning cup of Joe.
  • Create a kids lunchbox surprise by adding a teaspoon of Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste to peanut butter for an extra sweet PB&J.
For a more intricate dessert, consider making the Vanilla Nougat Candy Bar Bites recipe below. This vanilla-infused sweet is sure to delight everyone’s valentines or they can be boxed up and given as a homemade gift to all loved ones!

Vanilla Nougat Candy Bar Bites

From Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever
Makes about 2 dozen 1 inch bites
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), melted
¼ cup finely chopped salted nuts*
* Use whatever kind of nuts you like. Salted peanuts and almonds are especially good for a candy bar effect.
  • Lightly coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line it with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment, too.
  • In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, stir together sugar, 1/2 cup water, corn syrup, and salt. Boil until the temperature reaches 238°F.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour half of the hot syrup into egg whites, beginning with just 1 to 2 tablespoons and then gradually pouring in the rest (adding just a little syrup at first warms up the egg whites and prevents them from scrambling). Immediately return saucepan with the remaining hot syrup to medium-high heat and bring to a boil; continue beating egg-white mixture until thick, with the consistency of marshmallow crème, then turn off mixer.
  • When the syrup temperature reaches 275°F, turn mixer on at medium speed and slowly pour in syrup. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for 10 to 12 minutes, until mixture is very thick, heavy, and beginning to lose its gloss; the bowl should be cool except for the very bottom. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and spread it into the corners with lightly oiled hands or an offset spatula. Let set at room temperature until completely cool and firm, about 2 hours.
  • Invert nougat onto a cutting surface and remove the parchment. The slab should be sticky side up (the side that was exposed to the air while setting should be dry and not sticky when touched). Cut into 1-inch squares and place squares sticky side up on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Pour melted chocolate into a small zip-top bag. Use scissors to snip off the corner of the bag. Drizzle a bit of chocolate over each nougat square and sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 5 minutes, before serving.
If the egg whites hold soft peaks before the syrup temperature reaches 238°F, stop the mixer—you want the whipped whites to be ready and waiting for the syrup, not the other way around.
This soft nougat is the perfect base for all kinds of creative confectioneries. Flavor it as you like (peppermint holiday nougat, anyone?), fold in dried fruits and nuts for a riff on Italian torrone, or use it as inspiration for your own homemade candy bars.

About Shauna Sever
Shauna Sever is The Next Door Baker. With her easy, fun and accessible approach to baking and entertaining, she inspires both the pastry proficient and baking-phobic alike to tie their apron strings and head into the kitchen. With her first cookbook,  Marshmallow Madness! from Quirk Books published in February 2012; Her second cookbook;  Pure Vanilla, a popular food blog named one of the top 50 food blogs by; and the launch of Bake Sale Bakery, a small batch baking and dessert catering business, Shauna is matching her skills and her passion to make baking accessible to everyone.
Before pursuing a career in the food biz, Shauna graduated with a degree in Journalism from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.  After working as an investigative reporter, a television host and correspondent for the likes of  Extra and TV Guide Network, Shauna decided to follow her sweet tooth into the world of baking and desserts. Soon after, she launched her blog and became a recipe writer for a Michelin-starred chef, and continued on as a TV host for food-related segments.

About Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
Throughout its more than 100 year history, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has earned its reputation as a manufacturer of the finest extracts in the world. The full line of Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla products include: Vanilla Beans and Extracts from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico; sugar and alcohol-free Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar, Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Beans.
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas also offers a full line of Pure Flavors: Pure Chocolate Extract, Pure Almond Extract, Pure Orange Extract, Pure Lemon Extract, Pure Coffee Extract, Pure Peppermint Extract, Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water. All Nielsen-Massey products are Allergen-Free and certified Kosher and Gluten-Free. The company is headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, with production facilities in Waukegan and Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.
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