>Tough Choices

>Some people prefer chocolate.
Some people prefer vanilla.

Me, well most days I’m a chocolate girl.
Rocky road ice cream or pralines and cream? – Rocky road.
Chocolate chip or sugar cookies? Tough call but I’d go for those warm melting dark chocolate bits of heaven any day.
White shoes or brown – brown.

Like I said, I’m a chocolate girl…..most days. But not today. Today I was pure, unadulterated, take me to Tahiti and call it day vanilla girl through and through. Today I made a different choice.

Why? Easy, this is why…..

But more about that later and yes the recipe is at the bottom …. because the reason for THAT is THIS!!

Last week I noticed I had nothing made from vanilla in my pantry but four tiny precious ounces of organic extract. That was it!  It was the saddest thing ever… well next to the death of Elvis (I’ll let it go, you need to give me time..yes I know it’s been over 30 years…I’m just not ready). I should also include the first time I found I didn’t fit into my size 8 jeans anymore and I also had a muffin top over the waist band. That wasn’t really sad..it was tragic.

So being vanilla bare I grabbed my coat, keys and sat down in my office chair and drove my internet over to The Vanilla Company where I ordered up a little (almost) everything.

“Yes I’d like some of the Madagascar Bourbon Extract please. What size? Oh hmm…let’s do a 32 oz….and you know let’s throw in a 32oz Tahitian Extract as well.”

“Ok I definitely need some beans. How about 1/2lb of the Bourbon beans. Oh the delights awaiting you my sweet little things.”

“I guess that’ll do…..Oh wait that will be excellent to have around..I’ll take some of the pure ground vanilla…that will be great in frosting, butter, for light dusting garnishes! Excellent.”

“Any I guess while I’m here I might as well pick up some of the whole vanilla bean paste to round it all out.”

“I know I can use the paste and extra interchangeably but I can’t get those pretty little brown speckles from extract and besides my pantry just won’t seem complete without both so let’s throw one in.

“Wonderful, I am so excited, I’ll wait patiently watching for my dear mailman to drop off my box…5-7 days you say…oh I hope I can wait. Yes ma’am thank you Ms. Internet checkout cart.”

Tap…tap…tap…tick.tock…tick tock….

Finally after F.O.R.E.V.E.R (well it sure seemed like it.) my package arrived. Now the conundrum…what to make and which one of my lovelies will get used first?

Oh wicked decisions!!! You are so cruel!!
Wait…who says I have to decide? It’s my kitchen…my vanilla…yes..that’s what I’ll do!!

I”LL USE THEM ALL!! (insert inspirational whoop of joy here)

The first was easy. As you know I have a little (lot) obsession with butter so deciding on a sweet butter was a no brainer.

Honey Sweet Vanilla Butter

1 stick pure butter
1 1/2 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp ground vanilla powder (you can scoop out the inside of a split bean if you don’t have powder)

Blend all ingredients until butter is creamy and whipped. Store in fridge. Indulge!


In addition to the butter I needed dessert. Today is Easter (Happy Easter by the way).. and I made prime rib for dinner. That called for a special yummy dessert and believe it or not I was not in the mood for chocolate. Besides, today I was decidedly a vanilla girl.

I bought this adorable little mini-bunt pan and just had to find something to make in it. Went digging through my cupcake recipes and decided to use a coconut cupcake for my base. The rest was just added as I went. The best part was I was able to use my fresh vanilla beans and my extract and my paste.
If you don’t have all three you can use extra for all recipe wherever vanilla is called for.

I’m not sure what to call this recipe so I’ll leave it to my readers (however few you may be right now). If you have a good suggestion leave a comment. I’ll update the post at a later date.

So here’s that picture again and now the choice is yours….what should we call this?

What is it? Unofficially it’s an orange coconut bunt cake with chilled orange coconut compote and vanilla anglaise sauce. That’s all just too long to put into one title.

I just love it when inspiration strikes and even better when i don’t have to make a choice.

The best thing about choices…you can always make a new one.

What will you choose?

Coco-Norange Cake
As named by Andrea Knott



1 3/4 C. cake flour ( unbleached all-purpose will work too)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C. shredded coconut
3/4 C. unsalted real butter (not substitutes), room temperature
4 extra large eggs
1 1/2 tsp orange extra
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C. heavy cream
zest of one orange peel.


1. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Line cupcake tin w/ liners or butter and lightly flour alternate pans

2. Whisk together flour, salt & baking powder. With sharp knife or food processor chop coconut until finely ground & add to flour mixture with whisk along with orange zest.

3. In large mixer bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Gradually add each egg, both extracts until incorporated. Slowly add flour mixture alternating with cream until combined and light and fluffy.

4. Fill tins or cake pans 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and cook on wire rack.



3 fresh oranges, peeled, seeded, and all membranes removed. Cut slices into 3-4 small pieces (about the size of a cranberry)
1/4 C. shredded coconut
1/2 C. sugar
8 Tbs spiced rum (or grand marinier, regular rum or orange liqueur)
1 vanilla bean split.


1. Add all ingredients to sauce pan and simmer for 10-12 minutes stirring carefully until sugar is dissolved and orange is tender.

2. Leave compote to stand off heat for 10 minutes. Should thicken slightly. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

ANGLAISE SAUCE: (Le Cordon Blue Recipe)
even you can cook like the French.


1 vanilla bean split
2 1/2 C. whole milk
6 egg yolks
1/4 C. super fine sugar (regular sugar can be run through a food processor if needed or used on it’s own).
6 Tbs. heavy cream


1. Add vanilla bean and milk to saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

2. In separate bowl beat yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick.

3. Slowly…yes slowly…a little at a time….pour milk into egg mixture…just a little at first to temper the yolks. Too much too soon and the yolks will scramble and then you’ll have to start all over. So slowly..incorporate milk thoroughly into egg.

4. Return cream back to pan and reheat stirring constantly until the cream coats the back of a spoon. Don NOT boil. Think sweet scrambled eggs. Bad…very bad.

5. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream.


Use your imagination here, there is no wrong way to plate any dessert. Try new things. How to plate it as pictured: Spoon a small amount of Anglaise sauce into the center of a plate and spread into even circle with back of spoon.

Add cake to center of sauce and top just the edge of the top of the cake with another circle of sauce. Just enough to drizzle down the sides.

Top center of cake with dollop of orange compote sauce. Garnish with orange and fresh cut mint.




One response to this post.

  1. >This post makes me swoon. Love.


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