Should You Use Vanilla Bean Or Vanilla Extract For Mousse?

Vanilla custard mixed with whipped cream — could anything be more beautiful? The result is vanilla mousse, which is similar to a sweet and fluffy cloud in a dish. Enjoy it every chance you get, and if possible, make your own fresh mousse dessert at home. As with many things made with vanilla, you want the best flavor you can get. There are usually two common choices for vanilla flavoring in a mousse: vanilla bean or vanilla extract.

The vanilla bean originates from Mexico and comes from an orchid plant. The bean looks like a brown bean pod, explains Live Eat Learn. It's rather expensive thanks to the fact that it isn't easy to grow, pollinate, and harvest.

Vanilla extract, on the other hand, is extracted from the vanilla bean and is sold in liquid form. You'll notice pure vanilla extract and also imitation vanilla extract. Vanilla Queen writes that to be a pure vanilla extract, it must contain at least 13.35% vanilla extractives. The rest is alcohol and distilled water. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even make homemade vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla extract, however, is synthetically made in a laboratory, with no real vanilla in it.

Bean or extract? It's up to you

According to Nielsen-Massey, the liquid form of vanilla extract is perfect for creamy desserts, such as mousse because it blends in smoothly. It's also very easy to measure since you just pour it into a measuring spoon. Still, Plump Pods explains that the vanilla bean gives the purest and most potent vanilla flavor. One bean is equal to one teaspoon of vanilla extract, so measure accordingly.

As with many recipes and flavors, you can't go wrong with either choice. It's a personal preference. If you love vanilla beans but want vanilla mousse tonight, and your only vanilla flavoring is the pure extract in your cupboard, then go for the extract. Both vanilla extract and vanilla beans work just fine in your mousse. However, do skip the imitation stuff or you'll end up with chemical flavoring in your dessert. The beans will give the mousse the flecks of vanilla bean color, so be aware of that, per Masterclass. In the end, what matters most is that you finally get your fluffy, decadent vanilla mousse.