Are you getting into the festive baking spirit? Christmas is all about sweet delights, and we want to introduce you to one ingredient that should be in your cupboard: Nielsen-Massey’s Vanilla Extract. This week, we’re exploring all the wonderful ways you can use vanilla extract – from London’s best vanilla hot drinks to Christmas canape ideas – so stay tuned for a lot of vanilla goodness. Eric Lanlard, AKA Cake Boy, is a huge fan – here’s how he likes to use the vanilla essence:


Photo Credit: Cake Boy – Facebook

So, Eric, what is your favourite dish to bake using Nielsen-Massey vanilla? A classic vanilla New York baked cheesecake, for sure.

What’s the best way to use vanilla extract in cooking?

Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract Lifestyle Image

Vanilla contains an array of complex flavours.  You should always, if possible, try to fold the extract or bean paste into a cold mixture, heat will ‘damage’ the flavour intensity.

What’s the difference between extract and bean paste?

Bean paste is slightly thicker due to it having lots of vanilla flecks inside. I use bean paste in dishes where I want to be able to see the flecks of vanilla but also, it’s great for those recipes where you want vanilla flavour but are a little frightened to add an extract in case it waters your recipe down, so in custards, and milk or cream puddings and buttercreams I’d always opt for the bean paste.

How well does Neilsen-Massey’s vanilla extract work in savoury dishes?

Nielsen-Massey's Vanilla Infused Salmon Fillets

Vanilla is a great addition to savoury cooking.  It is perfect to balance acidity in tomato sauce or salsa and it works really well with smoked fish and red meat.

What’s your favourite vanilla dessert?

If it’s on the menu – I will always opt for a  good creamy and slightly set panna cotta.

Favourite place to grab a vanilla treat in London? 

Le Gavroche in Mayfair for their legendary Omelettes Rothschild … a sweet, fluffy omelette!

What is your advice for baking Christmas puddings and mince pies? 

Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Pods Lifestyle Image LOW RES

For both be creative – use different liquors – cointreau or amaretto  are a firm favourite.  Always use the finest ingredients – unsalted butter, unrefined sugar, vanilla extract, high quality dried fruit … opt for plump fruit – it’ll make a big difference to your Christmas baking.  For mince pies I like to use shortcrust pastry for the base and puff  pastry on the top

White Chocolate & Passion Fruit Cheesecake


Eric says: “I am a big fan of the baked cheesecake and this recipe is smooth and zesty with a touch of the exotic. It’s perfectly sweetened with the white chocolate – decorate with winter berries.”

Serves 6

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus cooling and chilling overnight

Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes – 1hour 15 minutes

  • 50g (2oz) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g (31Ž2oz) digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 125g (4oz) white chocolate, chopped
  • 125ml (4fl oz) single cream
  • 225g (71Ž2oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 225g (71Ž2oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 125ml (4fl oz) passion fruit pulp, sieved to remove pips passion fruit and berries to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C)/350°F/gas mark.

Grease a 20cm (8in) diameter springform cake tin.

Put the crushed biscuits and melted butter into a bowl and mix well.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press down with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (fan 130°C)/300°F/gas mark 2. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Put the cream into a small saucepan and heat, then pour on to the chocolate and stir until smooth. Put to one side.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone together until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks.

Stir in the white chocolate mixture and passion fruit pulp. In a large, clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.

Fold a large spoonful of the egg whites into the batter very vigorously, then gently fold in the remaining whites until smooth.

Spoon the mixture on to the cooled base and bake for 50–60 minutes, or until set but with a slight wobble in the centre.

Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool inside for 2 hours, with the door ajar.

Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the tin and decorate with fresh passion fruit and berries.

Sponsored post in association with Nielsen-Massey.