Tag Archives: vanilla bean

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I wish this blog was scratch and sniff…I really do.



This is my coveted jar of homemade vanilla that I’ve been using for over 4 years.  The smell is so intense and the flavor in baked goods is bar none.  It’s a simple mix of vodka and vanilla beans that I’ve been adding to and refilling for quite some time.   It is by far one of my best ingredients and the scent can be associated with so many amazing things.  Moms cookies, vanilla bean cake, homemade ice cream and marshmallows.  The list goes on and on.


A while ago when I was teaching basic baking classes to some young boys, they always argued over who got to pour the vanilla in.  It’s such a tiny part of most recipes but the flavor it imparts can’t be denied.  It enhances everything else in the bowl.  It’s essential!


It’s also an easy gift to make.  If you started a jar of vanilla extract today you could have a some pretty awesome Christmas gifts for December!  It really only needs a couple of months to steep, but the longer it sits the better.  Keep the bottle in the pantry and give it a shake every now and then.  There are loads of vanilla extract printables on line (like the one below from tidymom.net) and you can cross a whole mess of people off your Christmas list ~ in July everyone!  That’s the best part!


What’s your favourite vanilla memory?

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • Use 3-4 whole vanilla beans per cup of vodka.  Split the beans in half, place in a sealable jar and pour vodka on top!  Place in a cool dark place for 2-3 months before using.  Give the jar a shake every now and then.  I continue to add beans that I have used in baking (however not if they have been steeped in any kind of milk or cream), and adding more vodka when low.





Filed under Extra Special, Sauces and Syrups, Tutorial

Hot Milk Cake All Glammed Up

Hot Milk Cake is a recipe that’s been around for years.  It’s an old-fashioned cake that whips up in minutes and needs merely a sprinkle of powdered sugar to be fabulous.  It get’s its name from the addition of steaming milk as the last step in the batter prep.  I often make it in the summer as a quick snacking treat and serve it after dinner with fresh berries and cream.  It’s a delicate vanilla- infused sponge cake without all the effort.

hotmilk cake

That’s definitely my kinda cake.

hotmilk cake2

I steep a whole vanilla bean in the hot milk for a while before adding it to the batter.  The end result is a bean speckled cake that is sweet and light.  The batter itself tastes exceptional and is so versatile.  I’ve used it in bundt pans like here, as cupcakes like here, as a base for trifles and even just in a regular old 9 x 13 pan for convenience.

hotmilk cake1

I glammed it up this week-end for a patio dinner.  By glam I mean breaking out the bundt pan and adding a glaze.  Sweet, dark, juicy local cherries are in season and I knew this would be the best vehicle to showcase them.  They are one of this families favourite summer fruits and the season doesn’t last very long. Strawberries and blueberries are a second favourite but the cherries add a burst of summer flavor and sexiness to the cake.

hotmilk cake 3

Yup, that’s right, I just called my cake sexy.

hotmilk cake 4

The addition of the White Chocolate Glaze just puts it over the top.  I found the recipe while searching on-line and I’m so glad I tried it.  It’s made with the best white chocolate you can find and mascarpone cheese.  Sounds crazy but the end result is a smooth and creamy glaze that’s out of this world.  There was a wee bit left over and I greedily dipped the remaining cherries in it for a snack.  Wow.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Hot Milk Cake

*adapted from Taste of Home

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • one vanilla bean split and scraped
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 10 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 250 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz white chocolate, chopped

1.  In a large bowl, beat eggs on high-speed for 5 minutes (don’t skimp on this step!) until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy and increased in volume. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, salt and baking powder; gradually add to batter just until combined.

2. In a small saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean, seeds and butter just until butter is melted and mixture begins to bubble slightly at the side of the pan. Steep for 20 mins or more. Reheat if needed (should be steaming slightly).  Remove vanilla bean.  Gradually add milk to batter, a few tablespoons at a time; beat just until combined

3.  Pour into greased and floured 10 inch bundt pan.  You can also use a 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until cake springs back when touched.   Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

4.   Heat the mascarpone in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (just until runny).  Remove from heat and add chocolate.  Stir until combined and smooth.  Let the glaze sit for a few minutes to cool before pouring over the cake.  Top with your favourite berry!



Filed under Cake

A Retirement Party and Nautical Cupcakes

My dad is officially retiring at the end of the month.  And it’s his birthday on Tuesday too.  We had a surprise gathering and picnic lunch for him today.  All the kids and grandkids arrived at the party wearing matching t-shirts with the name of his boat on them…”Knot Done.”  So named because he is retiring and turning 65 and there are lots of things he still wants to do with his life.  Genius.

You can say a lot of things about my dad but you could never say he wasn’t a hard worker and a dedicated employee.   He is the true definition of giving 200% to a task.  I know he is very well-respected by his colleagues.  He is a problem solver.  He is a leader.  He is a teacher.  His kids think he’s pretty awesome too!

This picture is an oldie.  Taken from an old employer.

My dad does woodworking as a hobby too.  He’s meticulous and accurate and he’s taught me a thing or two about working in the shop!  Even as an adult I get very excited when dad and I are working on a project together.  I cherish those times that he’s teaching me something.

For a good part of my life, dad has had a boat.  He comes from Nova Scotia so being on the water is second nature to him.    I decided to use a nautical theme for his retirement/birthday party cupcakes.

Thank you dad for teaching me the value of hard work and dedication.   You are one of the most influential people in my life.  I hope you enjoyed your party!

These are Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The fondant is Homemade Marshmallow Fondant that I made here.  I did add some Gum-Tex to the fondant before working with it because I wanted the decorations to dry harder than they normally do.  Fondant is so easy to work with and colour.  You just need the imagination!  Give yourself lots of time however, as I made these a week in advance so they would have lots of time to set up.

Vanilla Bean Cupcake recipe to come shortly!!

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Filed under Cup Cakes, Fondant and Icing