A question about a recipe: Burnt Caramel Pudding

I have a question about step 2 on the recipe "Burnt Caramel Pudding" from Midge. It says:

"Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream; toss the scraped pod in there too. Turn the heat to low to gently warm the cream. " My question is, i can't find a vanilla bean to save my life! How much liquid vanilla can/should I use in lieu of the bean?

Burnt Caramel Pudding
Recipe question for: Burnt Caramel Pudding


Reiney April 17, 2012
In pastry school, where everything is measured down to the exact gram, this is how we measured vanilla:

- 1 bean, 1/2 bean, 1/4 bean; or
- A quick capful of vanilla extract (regardless of what size bean the recipe called for)

In other words: we didn't measure vanilla too precisely beyond that. Certainly extract quality will vary and it's important to use a good one - 1 T in any dish is a lot though.

Also, FYI, the flavour of a bean is in the pod not the seeds. The seeds just add decoration and the act of scraping helps to release oils (similar to bruising herbs).

For this reason you can wash off a bean after infusing the flavour and re-use it, though its potency will be diminished. Or add it to sugar to make vanilla sugar.
ChefOno April 17, 2012

Very interesting! Can you double check your bottle? I found this from Nielsen-Massey: "One teaspoon of vanilla bean paste equals one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla extract."

In any case, 1 inch = 1 tsp. would calculate to a 3" bean using those formulas. Now I'm not saying there aren't 3" beans available but I don't think even supermarket beans are that short. The last ones I remember seeing (admittedly quite a while ago) were doubled over in a standard spice jar, they'd have to have been at least 6". The ones I use are at least 7".
ChefJune April 17, 2012
All the answers I found on the web say 1 inch of vanilla bean, scraped is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of liquid vanilla extract. I'm pretty sure my bottle of Neilsen-Massey says 1 bean = 1 tablespoon of extract, and that would be the same.
LeBec F. April 17, 2012
Equivalents and substitution questions are often very quickly answered through google.just a suggestion.
ChefOno April 17, 2012

While that's certainly true, the depth of knowledge on this site continues to amaze me. The answers I've read here are reliable and the discussions intelligent -- not your average group to say the least.

Just for fun, I Googled this question and came up with a range answers:

1 teaspoon extract = 1 bean (Nielsen-Massey, et al)
1 teaspoon extract = 1 inch of bean (Cook's Thesaurus / foodsubs.com)

If an average bean is 7", that's 7 teaspoons per bean or a 700% between "equivalents".
ChefOno April 16, 2012

I'd probably go a little heavier considering its importance in the dish. But it's all a guess anyway since beans come in different sizes and potencies. You may already know this but be sure to add the extract just before the mixture goes into the ramekins, not when the bean would have gone in.

There are a number of good online sources for beans, far less expensively than you'd find at a grocery store. Beans have a fuller, richer flavor than extract, you can discover Tahitian vanilla in the process, and learn how to make your own, superior extracts. Let me know if you need a reference.
drbabs April 16, 2012
I'd use about a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
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