Vanilla is delicious. It is one of my favourite aromas and flavours. I am pleased to share this easy and quick dessert using vanilla and show the various forms of vanilla available in the photo below. The most popular is the vanilla extract; it is the crushed seeds of the vanilla pod dissolved in an alcohol base. You can also buy vanilla paste and powdered vanilla in specialty stores. The powdered vanilla shown is vanilla seeds scraped from the pod and dried. The paste, has some sugar syrup and vanilla extract added; account for the sugar when you are baking with it to adjust for the additional sweetness. The clear liquid is vanillin, artificial vanilla; cheaper to buy but the flavour is artificial too! And you can always buy the whole vanilla bean.
When I began my research for background information, I discovered this detailed blog post called All about Vanilla that will give you more information.
Company coming for the holiday season and with a short list of ingredients, you can put together this Ricotta Cappuccino Dessert, which I have revised from a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis. I substituted the sugar with agave syrup; the ratio for substition is for every cup of sugar, use only 2/3 cup syrup. I also used a whole vanilla bean instead of half, as suggested. The additional flavour and the speckles in are worth it.
With a sharp tip of a knife, split the bean in half and scrape out the seeds.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients: the ricotta cheese, agave syrup, instant espresso coffee and scraped vanilla seeds.
Blend all the ingredients until very smooth.
I thought it would be fun to serve this dessert to look like cappuccino, complete with the addition of cinnamon and shaved chocolate.
Another treat is to serve this with dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. This would be delicious with some mixed berries too. Ciao, for now.
1/3 cup agave syrup (if using sugar, use about 1/2 cup)
1/2 vanilla bean (if using vanilla extract, use about 1 tsp.)
1 15-ounce container low fat ricotta cheese
1/2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
sprinkle of ground cinnamon
- Cut the vanilla bean open lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and place them in a bowl with the agave syrup, ricotta and espresso powder. Use a hand blender to blend all the ingredients until smooth (if you don’t have a hand blender, use a food processor).
- Blend for 1 minute. Stop the machine to scrape down the sides with a rubber
spatula. Blend for another minute until very smooth.
- Spoon the mixture into small espresso cups or teacups. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
- To serve, sprinkle the ricotta cappuccino with cinnamon and chocolate shavings.