Vanilla Beans Vanilla is the second costliest spice in the world, after saffron. Photo of vanilla beans by Joan Vicent Canto | IST.



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November 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Salts & Seasonings

Vanilla: The World’s Favorite Flavor

Page 6: Taste Test Results ~ Vanilla Beans


This is Page 6 of a nine-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Vanilla Bean Taste Test

After studying the effect of the vanilla in shortbread cookies, we made pastry chef Larissa Raphael’s panna cotta recipe with six different vanilla beans.

As with the vanilla extracts, the vanilla beans came from different areas of the world. As with the cookies, all of the panna cottas were delicious, but we had our favorites. In a recipe like panna cotta, it’s not only the flavor that can be improved, but the appearance of the bean specks, which are obtained by scraping the bean after it has been scalded in the cream. Different beans “speck” differently!

In fact, Larissa Raphael, whose profession includes perfecting her recipes even if they’re already superb, noted enough of a difference that she decided to change the type of vanilla she uses to one of the winners.

Panna Cotta
Larissa Raphael’s panna cotta recipe was used to
test the vanilla extracts. Here’s the recipe for
these delightful dessert. Photo by Saidi Granados | THE NIBBLE.


Vanilla Bean Brand Origin Bean
Panna Cotta
Aust & Hachmann
French Polynesia Thick, over-
sized bean
Light bean specks - Nice, smooth vanilla flavor
Aust & Hachmann (The Winner - Tie) Papua New Guinea Full, moist bean Moderate, attractive bean specks

- Tied for favorite
- Deep, smoky taste
- Roundness of flavor

Aust & Hachmann
Uganda Viscous, plump bean Heavy, concentrated bean specks - Bright flavor enhances richness and sweetness
(The Winner)
Madagascar Dry, brittle bean Little to no bean specks

- Subtle, infused floral flavor
- Universal, “classic vanilla”

Rain’s Choice
(The Winner - Tie)
Mexican Moderate size & moisture Moderate bean specks

- Strong vanilla flavor with distinctive, “unique” vanilla aftertaste
- Wonderful baked aroma

Rain’s Choice Tahitian Moist, tapered bean Heavy, pronounced bean specks - Indistinct vanilla flavor
- Overwhelming taste of butter

Continue To Page 7: Shortbread Cookie & Panna Cotta Recipe

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