HomeWhole Vanilla Bean Paste

Whole Vanilla Bean Paste

An easy to use, flavorful ingredient that epitomizes a no-waste philosophy.

Pastry chefs (and chefs overall) are ever more conscious of reducing waste in their kitchens, often turning fruit scraps into sauces and jams, using rerolled pastry doughs for elegant, deconstructed napoleons, or layering any less-than-perfectly-shaped baked meringue in verrines. A key ingredient in many of these, vanilla bean paste, epitomizes this same no-waste philosophy. From tree to jar, made from the whole vanilla bean with nothing lost in its unique manufacturing process, this full-flavored ingredient enhances everything from crème brûlée to ice creams and madeleines to Oaxacan chocolate cake, and is a favorite of chefs from Paris to L.A. Intense yet mellow, vanilla bean paste is like a tempting siren on the palate, inviting the indulger to go back for just one more bite of that ganache-filled bonbon, or in Kriss Harvey’s case, a brioche split and stuffed with vanilla bean ice cream. He enthuses, “You can use this paste in canelés without any taste of alcohol. It’s more cost- and labor-effective, too. It’s a chameleon that can work with all different flavor profiles. Recently I’ve revisited a classic from an earlier stage in my career and found that this form of vanilla is a game changer in a vanilla mousse set onto a crunchy speculoos base, shot through with salted, soft liquid caramel, itself intensely flavored with vanilla. Here’s the story of vanilla encapsulated in one quietly compelling dessert,” he concludes.

Kriss’s favorite paste that screams “vanilla” is based in large measure on Madagascar beans, which deliver the most recognizable and characteristic flavor profile to a broad swath of the sweets produced by bakeries, pastry shops, chocolatiers, and other high-quality outlets. Adding complexity to the mix, beans hailing from Papua New Guinea, the eastern half of the tropical island north of Australia, also play an important part, offering a solid base upon which to build the blend. These beans confer deep flavor in the way that the notes of the bass or cello resonate in a musical composition. Tahitian beans top things off by adding their unmistakably floral personality, which stands out in a highly fragrant and pleasing way.

Patrick Mogodin, owner with Kaity Liang of Adore Desserts in Redondo Beach, CA, emphasizes: “I love the lingering floral top-notes of this trifecta of vanilla beans in paste form. Adding a judicious dose of it to a pastry cream just out of the saucepan leads to a diplomat cream and a vanilla Bavarian cream that work well in my fruit tarts and signature Emeraude cake. When customers hear that there is such a limited window to pollinate the orchid flowers on the vanilla vine, they then appreciate the flavors lent by the paste that much more. We find that vanilla in paste form lends sweetness to a dessert that in itself is less sweet. We don’t subscribe to the philosophy that sweeter is better. In fact, disproportionate amounts of sugar added to a dessert often are used to mask inferior ingredients.” Mogodin and Liang find that using good vanilla, with its perceived sweetness, allows them to reduce the amount of sugar in many of their products. Additionally, they find that vanilla rounds out any sharp, sour, or even bitter flavors, leading to immensely memorable and well-balanced products.

Le Comptoir Madeleine, near Montmartre in Paris, focuses on its namesake product, a version of the delicate buttery cake that launched a thousand memories back in the early 20th century for the author Marcel Proust in his classic novel Remembrance of Things Past. At his shop, Quentin Hua reports that his modern-day vanilla-flavored version is the best-seller by far, almost flying out of those scallop shaped molds as they emerge from the oven after each of the multiple bakes during the day. “I like how the flavor and texture – and color – of vanilla bean paste pervades our madeleines, which are cooked at high heat so that they are crunchy on the outside with a tender interior.” To ensure that the vanilla flavor sings clearly through the buttery personality of this mini cake, Hua doses 100 grams of paste for each 3 kilos of the batter, about 3 percent by weight, yielding lots of flavor, and yet economical.

Heading west to Los Angeles, vanilla’s tropical personality fits perfectly into Ellen Ramos’s desserts. Featured at Cha Cha Cha and Loreto, where she oversees the dessert programs, her signature desserts include tres leches cake generously flecked with vanilla bean paste, and Carajillo (a concoction of diablito, a kind of Devil’s food cake), a chocolate cremeux, pecan toffee, pecan ice cream and carajillo foam, caffeinated and liquor spiked. Bringing it all home on this last blockbuster is a generous shaving of Oaxacan chocolate. Ramos explains, “The fudginess of the cake is produced by blooming the cocoa in hot water, to which I then add the vanilla bean paste. Using only 30 grams of the paste per 1030 grams of the cake batter (about 3 percent by weight), ensures that the vanilla holds its wonderfully fragrant personality to imbue the complete dessert.”

Perched 71 floors above the streets of downtown Los Angeles, Filiberto Flores’s desserts soar at 71 Above. In his Strawberries and Cream, an ode to his mother’s homey strawberries dolloped with sour cream, a Swiss meringue flavored with dried strawberry powder is dehydrated and presented like sweet penne-shaped tubes. Front and center on the plate is a whipped panna cotta, imbued with vanilla paste and shaped in a mold. Adding an element of surprise and seasonality is an insert of strawberry-rhubarb compote, while a thin almond sablé gives crunch to the creamy elements of the dessert. Garnished with fresh strawberries, compressed green strawberries in an elderflower cordial, and a flourish of edible micro greens and flowers, this dessert gets its complex endnotes from a paste made with three different vanilla beans, leading to a longer finish. “Vanilla is not just vanilla; we want it to be more than a simple add on to a dessert,” notes Flores.

Another of Flores’s creations, Chocolate Cremeux, is a riff on the perennial popular camp dessert, s’mores. Here, vanilla bean plays well with marshmallow in two forms: first in the marshmallow fluff layers nestled between two thin freeform tuiles, and then in the ice cream, showcasing how well the flavor of vanilla paste persists in elements both torched and frozen.

Seasonality rules, especially in the pastry chef’s paradise that is southern California. Taking full advantage of that abundance, Flores draws inspiration from summer corn in all its forms in a dessert composed of a vanilla paste-flavored sponge cake topped with huitlacoche ice cream and garnished with caramelized popcorn and a dusting of ash from the corn silk. He explains, “With its truffle-like flavor, huitlacoche plays very well with vanilla, which rounds out the darker, duskier notes in the corn fungus. It’s a perfect balance between savory and sweet.”

Proof Bakery, located in Atwater Village, northeast of downtown Los Angeles, is structured as an employee-owned business, and has made a name for itself with an intensely loyal fan base. Kitchen manager and partner Emily Eversman loves to celebrate the season with a house-made plum jam rounded out with vanilla bean paste. “At the moment I’m working on rolling out a cheesecake with a graham cracker crust which will be topped with plums marinated for a short time with a minimal amount of sugar and the flavorful paste.”  She adds, “This version of vanilla has made my life easier in that we use it in all our baked products, from financiers and cannelés to shortbread cookies and scones.” She enthuses, “Our apricot and roasted white chocolate scones are amped up with a generous shot of vanilla bean paste. As a side note, we source all our ingredients consciously and look for suppliers whose values align with ours. Tahitian Gold is one such vendor. And being in California, where farmers’ market produce is at the core of our product line, we taste fruits methodically with vanilla bean paste to arrive at the best combinations and ratios. We don’t overwhelm the flavor of the fresh fruit with vanilla; we are looking for a balanced flavor. We look for a harmonious progression of taste experiences in the desserts we prepare.”

Another can’t-miss use of flavorful vanilla paste is in the classic crème brûlée, ever popular at French Corner Café in Palm Desert, CA. This version takes full advantage of the hauntingly memorable flavor notes of vanilla. Using only four ingredients, pastry chef-owner Marc Davy tempers hot cream flavored with less than 1 percent vanilla bean paste by weight into a mixture of egg yolks and sugar, and then bakes the richly flavored mixture gently. He says, “Custards are the perfect medium in which to bring out the complex flavor notes of vanilla. Those characteristic little black flecks in the paste convey the message that only the highest quality ingredients are being used here.”

French by birth but international in exposure thanks to his classes and consulting all over the world, pastry chef Gregory Doyen relies on vanilla bean paste to flavor “Miss White,” his multicomponent dessert that features white chocolate and cassis. Perhaps it’s not surprising to find a connection to Burgundy in his pastry work. A nod to his birthplace is seen here with the inclusion of black currant, famously found in this region where aligoté wine and cassis come together in Kir, that delicate and sprightly drink, an old standby on the wine cocktail front. “Using vanilla bean paste is simple. Open the container, spoon some directly into a cream-based dessert, with no need for prolonged infusion to achieve the maximum flavor.” He sums it up: “The visuals give the impression that the dessert will have intense flavor, which it does. This dessert is really the reflection of the taste I like in a dessert, with its contrast between the acidity of the blackcurrant and the sweetness of the vanilla. The optics are impressive, too, and using this crucial ingredient in paste form cuts out the laborious process of scraping vanilla beans to get the most out of them. It’s a win-win-win.”

The word is out. Considering all of its attributes, vanilla bean paste combines the best of all possible flavorful worlds in one simple to use package. Aroma, taste, and a nice dose of zero waste sustainability come together in this pastry chef’s pantry essential.

Choux au Craquelin
by Patrick Mogidor, Adore Dessert Café, Redondo Beach, CA

Nothing could be more classic than these simple cream puffs, which are clearly accented with notes of vanilla. A medley of crispy, crunchy and creamy textures features in this combination of a thin crisp shell bursting with a classic lightened pastry cream filling.

Yield: 12 cream puffs

 Pate à Choux

  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 250 g water
  • 5 g salt
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 190 g whole eggs
  1. Melt butter with water and salt and bring to rolling boil. Add flour all at once and mix to a smooth, thick paste. Let cool to lukewarm.
  1. Add the eggs slowly, beating after each addition until well absorbed. 


  • 100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together to a homogenous mixture. Add the flour and mix until no grains of flour are visible. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  1. Pipe out pâte à choux to desired size. Roll craquelin dough to 2 mm thickness. Cut out rounds of the dough to cover the tops of the piped-out choux puffs. Bake puffs in 400°F (204°C) oven for about 20 minutes, or until fully puffed and golden brown, with no yellow undercooked spots. Let cool.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 375 g heavy cream 35%
  • 67 g granulated sugar
  • 4 g Tahitian Gold Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  1. Whip all ingredients to medium-stiff peaks.

Vanilla Custard

  • 37 g cornstarch
  • 67 g granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 375 g whole milk
  • 4 g gelatin powder or 2 gold gelatin sheets, bloomed in cold water
  • 5 g Tahitian Gold Whole Vanilla Bean Paste 
  1. Mix the cornstarch and sugar together. Whisk in the yolks.
  1. Bring the milk to a boil, then temper the hot milk into the sugar, cornstarch and egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. Add the gelatin to the still-hot cooked mixture. Stir to blend. Let cool.
  1. Fold in the Vanilla Whipped Cream. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for an hour and then fill the puffs. These may be served plain or glazed with a vanilla-scented fondant and garnished with caramelized pecans.

Miss White
By Gregory Doyen, Pastry Chef

This dessert is really the reflection of the taste I like in a dessert. It’s the contrast between the acidity of the black currant and the sweetness of the vanilla that makes this dessert so delicious. The choice and quality of ingredients in a dessert is fundamental, and for this dessert I chose to highlight the Tahitian vanilla paste and vanilla beans from the Tahitian Gold Co. This vanilla paste has an exceptional flavor and incomparable level of quality.

Yield: 12 cakes

Almond Sponge

  • 190 g whole egg
  • 155 g granulated sugar, divided
  • 40 g cake flour
  • 10 g cornstarch
  • 130 g almond powder
  • 110 g egg whites
  • 1 g salt
  • 25 g unsalted butter, melted
  1. Whip the eggs with 110 g of the sugar until the mixture is smooth and light in texture.
  1. Sift together the cake flour, cornstarch and almond powder.
  1. Whip the egg whites with the remaining 45 g sugar and salt to a soft peak meringue with the similar texture as the previous preparation.
  1. Add the melted butter into the whipped eggs then slowly incorporate the meringue. Add all dry ingredients at the end. Pour into a silicone-lined 16ʺ x 23ʺ (40 x 60 cm) tray. Bake at 330°F (165°C) for 12 minutes.

Vanilla Cream

  • 40 g egg yolks
  • 15 g granulated sugar
  • 40 g whole milk
  • 120 g heavy cream 35%
  • 10 g Tahitian Gold Vanilla Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 25 g white chocolate
  • 5 g cocoa butter
  • 20 g gelatin mass
  1. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar and emulsify.
  1. Heat the cream with the vanilla paste to 104°F (40°C). Combine both preparations and cook at 181°F (83°C) for 20 sec. Pour over the white chocolate and cocoa butter and then add the gelatin mix at the end. Emulsify and allow to cool down before use.

Black Currant Coulis 

  • 200 g Boiron black currant purée
  • 70 g Boiron raspberry purée
  • 50 g invert sugar
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  • 5 g pectin, extra slow set
  • 15 g gelatin mass
  1. Combine the purees and heat them with the invert sugar to 104°F (40°C).
  1. Mix the sugar and pectin, then add into the purees and bring to a boil. Add the gelatin mass at the end. Allow to cool down completely before use.

Vanilla Whipped Ganache

  • 400 g heavy cream 35%
  • 2 g Tahitian Gold Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 80 g Weiss Aneo white chocolate 34%
  • 30 g gelatin mass
  1. Heat the cream with the vanilla bean paste to 149°F (65°C), then pour through a sieve. Pour over chocolate with gelatin mass and whisk gently. Emulsify with the help of a hand blender. Place in the refrigerator overnight before whipping.

Vanilla Glaze 

  • 55 g water
  • 110 g granulated sugar
  • 0.2 g Tahitian Gold Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 110 g glucose syrup
  • 35 g condensed milk
  • 35 g evaporated milk
  • 60 g gelatin mass
  • 110 g Weiss Aneo white chocolate
  • 55 g Miroir Plus neutral glaze, cold
  1. Combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean paste and glucose syrup, then bring to a boil. Add the condensed milk and evaporated milk and bring to a boil again.
  1. Pour over the white chocolate, and add gelatin mass with the mirror glaze, then emulsify. Allow to cool down to 39°F (4°C) and reheat to 81°F (27°C) for glazing.


  • 120 g IQF black currants
  1. Add 20 g of the Black Currant Coulis with some black currants into each 2.3ʺ (6 cm) half-sphere silicone molds. Add a 20-g layer of Vanilla Cream. Make sure to place each layer separately in the freezer for few minutes before adding the next one. Freeze.
  1. For the cake, put 20 g of the Vanilla Whipped Ganache into each of the 7ʺ (7 cm) half-sphere molds and then fix the inserts into the centers. WHAT IS THE INSERT? Close the top of the mold with the almond sponge, then place it in a freezer.
  1. Unmold the frozen cake and cover it with the Vanilla Glaze at 82°F (28°C).
  1. Assemble the dessert as per photo, using a chocolate circle and ribbon for garnish.

Strawberries and Cream
By Filiberto Flores, 71 Above, Los Angeles, CA

A veritable symphony of textures is orchestrated here in a fruit forward dessert garnished with green strawberries, elderberry cordial and crisp dehydrated batons of meringue. Making the contemporary plated dessert even more memorable are the panna cotta and a classic sablé Breton cookie, both of which boast the signature flavor of Tahitian Gold Vanilla Whole-Bean Paste.

Yield: 60 Servings

Vanilla Panna Cotta

  • 104 g gelatin sheets
  • 3280 g heavy cream
  • 1200 g granulated sugar
  • 60 g Tahitian Gold 3-Bean Blend Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 3680 g crème fraîche
  • 1904 g buttermilk
  1. Bloom the gelatin in ice water.
  1. Meanwhile, in a pot, bring to a simmer the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin sheets, then temper in the crème fraiche and buttermilk. Blend with the immersion blender until smooth. Pass through a chinois, pour mixture into a 12-qt Cambro, covered with plastic film on the surface of the liquid so that it doesn’t create a skin. Refrigerate overnight.
  1. In the stand mixer, beat the panna cotta with a whisk attachment and place in piping bags.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

  • 1800 g diced strawberries
  • 682 g diced rhubarb
  • 252 g granulated sugar
  • 35 g NH Pectin
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the diced strawberries, diced rhubarb and sugar. Let macerate for 10 minutes, until the fruit releases its juices.
  1. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients, including the NH pectin, and bring the mixture to a boil. Pour the compote into half sphere molds, level with an offset spatula, and freeze.

Meringue Sticks

  • 520 g egg whites
  • 1200 g granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs freeze-dried strawberry powder
  • Red food coloring
  1. Based on a Swiss meringue method, gently bring the egg whites and sugar to 160°F (71°C) over a double boiler. Pour the egg white mixture, along with the strawberry powder and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the large stand mixer and whip on speed 2 for 11 minutes. Once the meringue has become voluminous and holds a stiff peak, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a #804 round tip. Over acetate plastic, make lines of meringue and dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) overnight.

Sablé Breton

  • 375 g unsalted butter
  • 325 g granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 g kosher salt
  • 10 g Tahitian Gold 3-Bean Blend Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 150 g egg yolks
  • 500 g pastry flour
  • 150 g almond flour
  • 16 g baking powder
  1. In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, 175 g of the sugar, the salt and the vanilla bean paste on speed 2 for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat for 8 minutes, until fluffy.
  1. Sift the flours, the remaining 150 g sugar and the baking powder in the large tamis to remove any clumps. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, scraping the sides after each addition. Once the dough has come together, package the dough in packs of 500 grams. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  1. The next day, roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to about 3mm in thickness and freeze. Cut into desired shape and freeze for 15 minutes. Bake at 300°F (149°C) for 6 minutes, or until golden brown.

Elderberry Cordial Green Strawberries 

  • 1245 g green strawberries, quartered
  • 500 g elderflower cordial
  1. Place the cut green strawberries and cordial in medium-size bags and Cryovac. Sous-vide at 126°F (52°C) for 20 minutes, or until tender, then submerge into an ice bath.

Strawberry Gel 

  • 1200 g granulated sugar
  • 48 g agar agar
  • 3000 g strawberry purée
  • 400 g water
  1. Place all the ingredients in a clean saucepan and let stand for 5 minutes to hydrate the agar agar.
  1. Place the pan on the burner. Continuously whisking and bring the liquid up to a boil. Transfer to a 200 hotel pan and let it cool down in the refrigerator for an hour or until it has become firm. 3. Using the Robot Coupe, blend the gel until it become fluid and smooth. Pass through a tamis to eliminate any clump. Transfer to a pastry bag.


  • Fresh strawberries, cut into wedges
  1. Using your favorite silicone mold (I use SIlikomart Stone 85), fill each cavity ¾ of the way up with the whipped panna cotta base. Using an offset spatula, bring up some of the base to ensure all the walls are covered. Place a half sphere of compote in the center and cover with some more of the panna cotta base, then level out with an offset spatula and freeze for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.
  1. Remove from mold and place the panna cotta over the cookie and set on a plate. Garnish with a few wedges of fresh strawberries, Elderberry Cordial Green Strawberries, Strawberry Gel, and Meringue Sticks.

Classic Vanilla Entremet
by Kriss Harvey, Chocolatier and Pastry Chef, Los Angeles, CA

Salty, sweet, creamy and crunchy coexist beautifully in this deceptively simple dessert. Anchored by a speculoos layer, here is a bold statement about the chameleonic properties of vanilla when paired with caramel and spiced speculoos, rounded out by a medium-dark milk chocolate. At its core is an irresistible Normandy-style salted buttery caramel filling, gently set with gelatin. A white chocolate mirror glaze tops things off, radiating purity of intention subverted by that devilish interior.

Yield 8      16 cm rings  by 4.5 cm high

Caramel Coulis Insert

  • 300 g heavy cream
  • 50 g glucose
  • 4 g fleur de sel
  • 5 g Tahitian Gold Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 2.6 g gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 10.4 g water
  • 550 g granulated sugar
  • 210 g salted butter
  1. Warm the cream, glucose, fleur de sel and vanilla paste to 176°F (80°C). Set aside.
  1. Bloom the gelatin in the water.
  1. Make a dry caramel with the sugar. When the temperature reaches 374°F (190°C), deglaze with the cream mixture. Whisk thoroughly and cool to 140°F (60°C). 

Speculoos Layer (placed on top of the entremets rings)  

  • 200 g milk chocolate 41%
  • 5 g soft unsalted butter
  • 100 g speculoos spread
  • 11 g Maldon salt, crushed
  • 150 g speculoos cookies, finely ground
  1. Melt the milk chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir in the soft butter and the speculoos spread. Add the salt and the crumbs. Cool the base to 82°F (28°C).
  1. Smooth into 4.7ʺ x 0.4ʺ (12 cm diameter x 1 cm high) rings and freeze.

Vanilla Mousse Layer

  •  11 g gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 44 g water
  • 200 g heavy cream
  • 5 g Tahitian Gold Whole Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g egg yolks
  • 750 g heavy cream, whipped
  1. Bloom the gelatin in the water.
  1. Warm the cream with the vanilla paste and the sugar.
  1. Whip the egg yolks, then add the warm cream. Add the drained gelatin and cook over low heat, stirring with a spatula until the tempeature reaches 180°F (82°C). Remove contents from pan quickly. Cool, blend with immersion blender and strain through a chinois.
  1. Cool the crème anglaise to 82°F (28°C). Fold in the whipped cream. Place a 6.3ʺ diameter x 7ʺ high (16 x 4.5 cm) ring on an acetate-lined flat surface. Pipe some of the mousse into the ring. Using an offset spatula, line the inside of the ring with the mousse. Press a caramel insert into the mousse, then pipe a small amount of mousse over the insert. Smooth with an offset spatula. Place a frozen speculoos base in the mousse, then smooth the top (which will be the bottom). Deep freeze.

White Chocolate Glaze                

  • 20 g gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 230 g water, divided
  • 200 g sweetened condensed milk
  • 300 g granulated sugar
  • 300 g glucose syrup
  • 3 g Tahitian Gold Ground Vanilla Beans
  • 300 g white chocolate 35%
  • 8 g titanium dioxide
  1. Bloom the gelatin in 80 g of the water.
  1. Heat the remaining 150 g water with the sweetened condensed milk, sugar and glucose syrup. Add the drained gelatin and ground vanilla beans. Strain over the chocolate. Add the titanium dioxide and blend with immersion blender. Use at 95-104°F (35-40°C).


  • White chocolate plaques
  • Edible flowers and leaves
  1. Unmold entremets and invert. Pour glaze over assembled frozen entremets. Refrigerate to temper before serving.
  1. Garnish with white chocolate plaques and edible flowers and leaves.

(This article appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

Robert Wemischner
Robert Wemischnerhttp://robertwemischner.com/
Robert Wemischner is a longtime professional baking instructor at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and the author of four books, including The Dessert Architect.