Vanilla, vanilla – how did you become the word we use for all that's bland, boring and blah? Vanilla's a spice with a rich history, which is why we celebrate it today on Vanilla Cupcake Day!
If you want to celebrate with us, why not book into our own Chef Silvia Leo's Vanilla Cupcake Cook-Along, this Sunday at 2pm?
While you wait for the day to come, how about a little history of that oh-so delicious bean?
Vanilla originates in Central America, with the first recorded cultivation of the vanilla plant being by the Aztecs in the 15th century (making it actually younger than the University of Oxford, which was founded in the 12th century!) The indigineous Americans used it to flavour their chocolatl drinks (the first ever version of hot chocolate), and the Europeans followed suit.
From there, it was taken over to Europe by the Spanish colonists, eventually becoming one of the biggest exports from the New World. Europeans couldn't get enough of the stuff in their own chocolatl, but it was the confectioner of Queen Elizabeth I who first came up with the idea of a vanilla sweet all of its own.
It turned out that vanilla flavour would become incredibly popular throughout Europe – the French started putting it in their ice cream as early as the 18th century. When US American revolutionary Thomas Jefferson visited Paris in the 1780s, he loved the stuff so much that he copied down the first recorded American vanilla ice cream recipe, using:
2. bottles of good cream.
6. yolks of eggs.
1/2 lb. sugar
Must've created a lot of the stuff!
Vanilla has never been pedestrian – it's actually the second most expensive spice in the world, after saffron. So let's celebrate its extraordinary history today!
Book now for our Vanilla Cupcake Cook-Along while slots remain!