Alton Brown changed my mind about vanilla. Vanilla gets a bad rap, he insisted. We shouldn’t be comparing boring, plain things to vanilla. Vanilla is a unique flavor. It’s extremely labor-intensive to grow, making it the second most expensive spice, after saffron.
Most of us consume food flavored with a vanilla doppelganger in liquid form. That’s not actually vanilla. I’m too lazy at the moment to find my bottle, but I’m guessing there’s HFCS in that little guy. A baker I am not, I will admit to never fiddling with a real bean. But I am a fan of Häagen-Dazs’ new gimmick: real ice cream.
All-natural ice cream crafted with only five ingredients for incredibly pure, balanced flavor… and surprisingly less fat!
Their “five” has been out for a few months now, but I just recently purchased a pint of their vanilla. I usually go for the crazy ones with multiple flavors going on: brownie chunks with espresso and caramel swirls in cinnamon oatmeal ice cream. Or something like that.
Anyway, HG’s vanilla contains only: skim milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla (vanilla bean flakes, vanilla extract). It’s fucking delicious. It does taste different than other vanillas. It’s bolder. Thicker. It’s familiar, but better than you remember.
But more, I like this trend. Pepsi came out with a “throwback” version featuring, wait for it, real sugar. Mountain Dew is also on the bandwagon. And the version of Coca-Cola sold in Mexico — with sugar — is gaining popularity in the States.
Now it’s not like these are suddenly health drinks, but it is nice to know that the big companies recognize that consumers want the real thing, even if it’s still not all that good for us.