For a really long time, I thought vanilla extract was the same regardless of what you spent on it, and I would just go for the cheapest stuff in the store (which still wasn’t all that cheap!). I learned as a young adult that vanilla from Mexico was some of the best in the world, and after purchasing some on a trip there, I had to admit that there was a substantial difference in the quality of my final product when using the “real” stuff versus the junk I’d been using my entire life. But the problem with getting vanilla from Mexico was just that…you had to go to Mexico to buy it! Needless to say, I’ve been out of that stuff for a few years, and just assumed that high quality vanilla was out of reach for me.
And then I slapped myself for being so silly. In this day and age, you are not limited to what you can physically purchase in a store (duh!), and furthermore, I don’t think American bakers are content to have inferior products when the overall difference in quality is so obvious. There had to be a company out there that sold in the United States AND that created only the finest quality vanilla.
Yes, of course there is. It’s called Nielsen-Massey, and if you start doing research online about vanilla, you will see that this company sets the standard. I had the opportunity to try a type of vanilla product I’d never before heard of, and that’s because Nielsen-Massey has the proprietary rights to it. It’s called Madagascar Pure Vanilla Powder, and it is a VERY cool thing for a baking enthusiast to have in her pantry. It can be sprinkled on something as a topping (we’ve used it on french toast and it was TO DIE FOR!), or you can also add it to baking mixes that might be sensitive to color, and adding that dark vanilla extract might detract from the look you are trying to achieve. Clever, no?
Nielsen-Massey also has an extensive collection of other vanilla products, sure to make any at-home cook drool. Since I’m not too knowledgeable about all the different types of vanilla, I really appreciate that the company has a page dedicated to which type of vanilla to use for various purposes. That eliminates the guess work to ensure that you get the product that best meets your needs.
I also had the opportunity to review the cookbook A Century of Flavor, which celebrates 100 years of Nielsen-Massey as a company and gives you the most tantalizing recipe ideas using their products (from sweet to savory!). You can check out some of their recipes directly from their site, including this Crisp Vanilla Butter Cookie that I will be making, and then devouring, in the next week or so.
Buy it!: While Nielsen-Massey doesn’t offer an online store, they can help you find a local retailer, as well as mail order and internet ordering options from retailers. Bad vanilla doesn’t have to happen to you anymore! Get the good stuff, and taste the difference. You’ll never go back to the grocery store junk, I promise!
Win it!: One lucky Stuff Parents Need reader is going to win the Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder! Woo hoo!
Be sure to enter my other current giveaways, found on the sidebar of my page.
Disclosure: I received complimentary products for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.