I was stumped for a bit when I saw that the theme this month was Vanilla Dreams. Then got excited when I saw that the first 15 commenters would get 3 beans from Beanilla. Then got bummed when I realized that I was commenter 16. THEN got excited again when I got an email saying I was getting some beans.
I got my beans at the end of last week. 3 lovely beans (from India!) vacuum sealed, begging to be used...
VERY VANILLA BUTTERSCOTCH FLAN
adapted from BHG Annual Recipes 2010
1/2C packed brown sugar
3C half + half
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade stuff*)
1tsp vanilla paste
1/2C vanilla sugar
Heat the half + half, vanilla bean (seeds and pod), extract and paste over medium heat until steaming (140-145 degrees). Remove from heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350. Combine the brown sugar and 1/4tsp salt and mix until all lumps are gone. Spoon into an 8x8 dish and pack into an even layer. Remove the pod from the half + half (DON'T throw it away). In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, 1/4tsp salt and vanilla sugar. Slowly whisk in the warm half + half mixture until well combined. Slowly pour the mixture over the brown sugar (it may float up but it will settle during baking). Place the dish in a roasting pan (I like to put a dishtowel underneath to keep it steady) and place in the oven. Carefully, pour enough boiling water in the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove dish from roasting pan and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for about 4-5 hours. Scoop directly from the dish, or run a thin spatula around the edges and invert onto a serving platter.
*It's really easy to make your own extract, it just takes time to "proof". All you need is 3 beans per 1 cup of alcohol (vodka, rum, bourbon or any combo of the 3) and a tight sealing container. Split the beans and cut them to fit into your container. Add your alcohol and seal up the container and give it a good shake. Find a cool dark place to store it and let it rest for about 8 weeks. Shake it every day for the first week and then once or twice a week for the remaining 7 weeks. As you start using it up, add more alcohol and/or beans and you'll never run out of extract!
The winner of April's competition will receive the following prize pack