By Wendy Allen | Photo By Jim Klousia 0
Julie Wiedmeyer of Sun Prairie is a chocolatelover turned vanilla. “One day I ran out of vanilla extract and borrowed a friend’s,” she says. “It came from somewhere in South or Latin America and it transformed my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Turns out that the vanilla we get here in the States is not actually vanilla, so I decided to make my own.”
A great vanilla is one whose flavor doesn’t change with how it’s used. “Some vanillas do well cold but lose flavor when heated. I was searching for one that would work for both.” Forty-five varieties later Julie found the magic bean and perfected her proprietary processing method, and the Vanilla Beanery was born.
Sampling this vanilla myself in a Bailey’s frosting, French toast and my favorite rhubarb muffin recipes, I honestly agree. Regular vanilla extract was a little overbearing in the frosting but died away in the baked goods. (Don’t even bother with imitation vanilla—it’s much too strong and has an awful astringent flavor.) Vanilla Beanery, on the other hand, was less pronounced with a wonderful almost-smoky flavor in both the cold frosting and French toast. In the muffins the flavor and aroma blended perfectly with the tart rhubarb. The fact the vanilla is created right here in Wisconsin is a nice feel-good bonus.