Far and away the most popular form of vanilla enjoyed today, pure vanilla extract gives rich vanilla flavor and aroma to ice cream, candy, cookies, and cakes.
Derived from dried, cured vanilla beans, pure vanilla has a fruity, spicy aroma that is delicate and perfumey, sometimes including woody, floral, even rummy notes. Pure vanilla extract has a rich, sweet flavor and a deep, dark-brown color.
How could we bake without it? Pure vanilla extract is an essential ingredient, used for both sweet and savory foods, including ice cream, soft drinks, eggnogs, chocolate confectionery, candy, baked goods of all kinds, French toast batter, puddings, cakes, cookies, and liqueurs. A dash of pure vanilla also adds exciting flavors to salad dressings, vegetables, fruits, and flavored butters.
Vanilla originated in Mexico. The Aztecs enjoyed a drink made from cocoa and vanilla beans called xocolatl, from which we get the word “chocolate.” Today the United States buys vanilla beans from Madagascar, Indonesia, Uganda, and Tonga.