Vanilla is a flavoring derived from the fruits of the Vanilla orchid, a native plant of Mexico. Vanilla bean paste is a convenient, easy-to-use replacement for whole vanilla beans. Vanilla bean paste is pure vanilla with bits of natural vanilla bean seeds in a unique, convenient, paste form that adds a gourmet appearance to any recipe.
Originally cultivated by Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican peoples, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. In 1819 the French began cultivating vanilla on Bourbon Island, now called Reunion Island, just off the coast of Madagascar.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice [after saffron], due to the extensive labor required to hand-pollinate and grow the vanilla seed pods.
Vanilla bean paste is much thicker than vanilla extract. It's actually not so much a paste as it is a thin syrup. Long the choice of bakers and ice-cream makers, this vanilla paste adds flecks of vanilla bean seeds, along with depth and flavor no other vanilla can match in ice creams, custards, creme brulee, cakes, and icings.
Vanilla paste equals our Madagascar vanilla extract in flavor, strength and usage: use 1:1 in place of liquid vanilla. Use vanilla to enhance the flavor of other delicious dishes with complementary tastes, such as chocolate, custards, caramel, coffee, and cakes.