Why Ina Garten Adds Both Vanilla Beans And Extract To Baked Goods

Can you ever have too much vanilla in a dessert? Ina Garten certainly doesn't seem to think so. The role that vanilla plays in sweet recipes is like the role salt plays in savory ones. Sure, it adds some flavor of its own, but it actually enhances all of the other ingredients as well. For instance, if you fail to put vanilla into your cookie dough, you'll end up with bland cookies. Even chocolate recipes won't taste as good if you skip the vanilla. Sweet or savory, Garten knows how to create amazing dishes and her huge throng of followers have come to trust her advice in the kitchen, so if she says "go big" on the vanilla, it will be done.

The famous cook's fans are familiar with her belief in using "good" ingredients which extends to vanilla. By "good," she means pure vanilla extract and definitely not imitation vanilla which is cheaper but far from superior. She reveals to Food Network that vanilla is her all-time favorite flavor and, when it comes to baking, she typically utilizes whole bean vanilla, a pure store-bought extract (which her fans know as Nielsen-Massey brand), and her own homemade extract. In Garten's recipe for vanilla brioche bread pudding, she doubles up the vanilla by using both extract and beans but the reason for this goes beyond the flavor.

It should taste and look like vanilla

To start the recipe, Garten toasts some brioche bread and makes a custard with egg yolks, whole eggs, half and half, whole milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and the seeds from one vanilla bean pod. In a Twitter video from the Food Network, she explains that this is, of course, to give the dish a prominent vanilla flavor but also to give it the look of vanilla, meaning the little black seed flecks that will pepper the final dish show diners that vanilla is in the pudding. Much like eating vanilla ice cream, when you see those tiny black dots, you know it's been made with real vanilla.

But the cookbook author isn't quite finished with the vanilla yet. When the bread pudding is plated and ready to be served, she drizzles the plates with her version of crème anglaise which is just melted vanilla ice cream. It is a decadent recipe that she describes as "over the top" and simply the best bread pudding she's ever made. Coming from Garten, this is quite a claim and you can rest assured that her fans will trust her words, so you might want to get your hands on some good vanilla before it sells out.