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In a word, Sever's new cookbook is simply gorgeous. I love the cool, soothing lavender and cream theme; easy-to-read, yet playful fonts; and the stunning photography (by Leigh Beisch). But Pure Vanilla isn't just another pretty face; it contains both useful and fascinating information and doable, delicious recipes.
First of all, this cookbook isn't about skipping the chocolate. Instead it's a celebration of vanilla. Whether waffles, baked goods, candy, or drink, Sever's dishes showcase the bean in its many forms. And some, like the recipe I share below, offer up double and triple vanilla heaven.
For many home cooks, Pure Vanilla will be an eye-opener and the gateway to new kitchen adventures. Did you know that vanilla comes in many forms? My pantry holds pure vanilla extract, vanilla paste, and whole vanilla beans. Vanilla also comes powdered and ground. Furthermore, not all vanilla extracts are the same, and some people swear by Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, whereas others are interested in vanillas from Mexico, India, Africa, or someplace else. Yes, vanilla can be just as complex as chocolate.
There are so many fantastic recipes in Pure Vanilla, I really couldn't decide what to try first. Here are some I've flagged:
- Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding
- Vanilla-Stewed Fruit
- Triple Vanilla Pound Cake
- Vanilla Biscotti
- Salted Vanilla Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Frosted Vanilla Almonds
- White Hot Fudge (for ice cream)
- Vanilla Martini
You may think that you'd never give up your chocolate, but that's only because you haven't yet seen Shauna Sever's vanilla creations. Pure Vanilla may just change your life.
Lemon-Vanilla Dream Bars
- 10 ounces white chocolate, chopped divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- ½ cup store-bought lemon curd
Melt 8 ounces of the white chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring. Remove bowl from heat and stir in sugar and salt.
Whisk in eggs 1 at a time and then whisk in vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste. With a spatula, gently fold in flour; when just a few streaks of flour remain, fold in the remaining 2 ounces of white chocolate. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Dollop lemon curd onto batter in 5 to 6 equal portions. With a knife, swirl curd into batter with a figure-8 motion. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean but not dry, 25 to 28 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Grasping the parchment overhang, lift out the entire block and cut into 12 bars.
Note: Sever suggests other flavors and types of spreads that would work well with these bars.
For more information about the cookbook, Shauna Sever, and vanilla, visit the Pure Vanilla page at Quirk Books. For recipes, photographs, and more, visit Sever's super blog, Piece of Cake.
Buy Pure Vanilla at an Indie or at a bookstore near you (link leads to an affiliate program).
Published by Quirk Books, 2012
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).