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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: Using your own homemade Vanilla Bean Paste is one of the simplest ways to elevate your baked goods! This concentrate adds intense creamy vanilla richness and complexity of flavor, and the lovely vanilla bean-speckled look it gives to cakes, cookies, crème brulée, and ice cream brings bakery-level flair to all of your sweet treats. Even better, making the paste is an easy and simple process and homemade is much more cost-effective than buying vanilla paste. Bonus: cooking it will make your kitchen smell absolutely fantastic. You can keep this paste in your refrigerator for a year. Once you use it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it!
Table of Contents
- What is Vanilla Bean Paste?
- Tools You Need
- Key Ingredients and Why
- How to Make Vanilla Bean Paste
- Can I Make Vanilla Bean Paste in Advance and How to Store Vanilla Bean Paste?
- What’s the Difference Between Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla Extract?
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- More Baking-Basics Recipes
What is Vanilla Bean Paste?
- Vanilla bean paste is a concentrated, homemade ingredient crafted by cooking and then blending vanilla bean seeds, chopped pods, sugar, water, and syrup for an intense and flavorful paste.
- This rich paste adds an intensely delicious flavor of vanilla to recipes. Additionally, it gives foods a creamy, off-white hue and a lightly speckled look.
- Unlike homemade vanilla extract which can contain vodka, vanilla paste does not contain alcohol.
- Vanilla paste was developed by vanilla distributors in the 20th century to give bakers a convenient way to use vanilla beans in recipes.
Tools You Need
Key Ingredients and Why
- Both vanilla pods and seeds are cooked and ground.
- Look for vanilla beans on amazon.com or in a market near you. Vanilla beans are often graded based on quality, and you should look for Grade A or Grade B beans.
- You want beans that are plump, soft, and shiny. Avoid dry, brittle vanilla beans. They should have a strong vanilla scent.
- Note that there are different types of vanilla beans. Madagascar vanilla beans have a full, creamy taste while Tahitian vanilla beans are more floral and fruity.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the vanilla paste and complements the intense vanilla flavor.
- Sugar dissolves when cooked with water, forming a simple syrup. This syrupy texture contributes to its mixable, pourable quality.
- Additionally, sugar acts as a natural preservative to protect against spoilage.
- Corn syrup is used in this recipe because it prevents the crystalization that can occur in sugar syrup.
- No worries if you’re out of it—use our recipe to make Perfect Homemade Corn Syrup Substitute!
How to Make Vanilla Bean Paste
- Cut the vanilla beans: First, cut the beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a saucepan. Next, chop up the beans and add the chopped vanilla beans to the pan.
- Make the paste: Add the water, sugar, and corn syrup to the pot. Simmer over low heat for about 5 – 8 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes. Finally, pour the mixture into a blender and puree for one minute, until really fine.
- Strain and store: Pass the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Then, transfer to a lidded jar and store at room temperature for one year.
Can I Make Vanilla Bean Paste in Advance and How to Store Vanilla Bean Paste?
Yes, you can make the paste in advance before using it in recipes.
- Store in a lidded glass jar in the fridge. The paste will keep for one year (but it’s so good it probably won’t last that long!).
What’s the Difference Between Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla Extract?
They are both flavoring agents used in cooking and baking, but they differ in several ways:
- Vanilla Bean Paste is made from vanilla bean pods, sugar, water, and often a thickening agent like corn syrup. It typically contains both the scraped seeds from the pods themselves.
- Vanilla Extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol (or glycerin). The extract captures the aromatic compounds and flavors of the vanilla beans.
- The Paste generally has a more intense and complex vanilla flavor from the presence of both the seeds and pieces of the vanilla bean pod.
- Vanilla Extract has a milder, simpler, and less concentrated vanilla flavor compared to bean paste.
Texture and Appearance:
- Vanilla Bean Paste has a thick and slightly viscous consistency. The presence of vanilla bean seeds gives it a speckled appearance, which can be visually appealing in recipes.
- Vanilla Extract is a liquid with an amber color (or clear color if it is made with glycerin), and it contains no to little visible vanilla bean specks.
- The Paste is often used when both the intense vanilla flavor and the visual appeal of vanilla bean specks are desired in recipes, such as custards and pudding, vanilla ice cream, cakes, and desserts like fudge.
- Vanilla Extract is more commonly used in recipes where a milder and pure vanilla flavor is needed, and the visual appearance of the seeds is not crucial.
What do I do if my Vanilla Bean Paste seems dry?
- If your vanilla beans are not the freshest, you might have to add a bit more water to get it to the desired consistency. Add the water a teaspoon at a time.
- Store your vanilla paste in a tightly closed jar to protect it from air exposure, which can dry the paste out.
Can I use Vanilla Bean Paste and vanilla extract interchangeably?
- Yes, you use them interchangeably. But you’ll generally need to use less paste than extract due to its higher concentration of flavor.
- A common guideline is to use about half the amount of vanilla bean paste for the equivalent amount of vanilla extract (⅓-½ teaspoon of paste= 1 teaspoon extract). But the exact ratio may vary depending on the brand and personal preference.
- Make your own vanilla extract with this simple recipe.
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- Simple syrup can crystalize over time. However, the small amount of corn syrup in this recipe will prevent that. You can easily make corn syrup using my recipe. Additionally, you can replace the corn syrup with glucose syrup.
- The paste provides a more complex taste than vanilla extract. You may need to use both for a more pronounced and straightforward vanilla flavor.
- Instead of sugar and water, you can make the paste with honey or agave syrup: use 1 cup of your desired sweetener and leave out the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Proceed as directed above, and keep in mind that honey in particular will impart its own delicious but distinctive flavor.
- Try this in my Classic Vanilla Pudding, and think beyond standard desserts and add it to Vanilla Bean Compound Butter, smoothies, and even oatmeal!
- Add this to your strawberries when making Strawberry Shortcake!
More Baking-Basics Recipes
- How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract
- How to Make Brown Sugar
- How to Make Condensed Milk
- How to Make Baking Powder and Baking Soda Explained
- Perfect Homemade Corn Syrup Substitute Recipe
Watch The Recipe Video!
How to Make Vanilla Bean Paste
- 10 whole vanilla beans
- 1 cup (8 fl oz/240 ml) water
- ½ cup (4 oz/115 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- Split each vanilla bean pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add them to a small saucepan.
- Roughly chop the pods and add those to the saucepan as well.
- Add the water, sugar and corn syrup to the pan and allow to come to a simmer over low heat.
- Allow to simmer for 5 -8 minutes to infuse the liquid and add as much flavor as possible. Stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the contents of the pot into a blender and puree for one minute, until fully blended.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl, pushing against the solids to extract as many of the seeds and finer bits of pod that you can.
- Transfer to a lidded jar and store in a fridge for up to 1 year. Stir well before using.