Mini Apple Cider Pound Cakes


1 1/2 cups butter, softened

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. apple pie spice

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup apple cider

1 Tablespoon VAIN Mexican Vanilla extracted in Apple Brandy

6 (5x3 inch) disposable aluminum foil loaf pans

Vegetable cooking spray


Toppings: Bourbon Glaze

1 cup confectioner's sugar

2 Tablespoons VAIN Madagascar Vanilla extracted in Kentucky Bourbon


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with apple cider, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat a low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Lightly grease disposable loaf pans with cooking spray. Pour batter into prepared pans, and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour). For glaze-topped cakes, spoon glaze over cooled cakes.

Bourbon Glaze: In a medium bowl, stir the confectioners' sugar and bourbon until combined. Add more vanilla if glaze is too thick.

VAIN Products Used: 

Mini Apple Cider Pound Cakes

Mint Julep


1 scant ounce minted simple syrup

2 cups crushed ice

2 ounces bourbon (such as Woodford Reserve)

1 tsp Mexican vanilla in Kentucky Bourbon

Fresh mint sprig, for garnish


To highball glass or silver Julep cup, add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, VAIN vanilla, and splash of water. Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.

VAIN Products Used: 

Mint Julep

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake


1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease baking pan

1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon

3 large eggs

1 Tablespoon VAIN Vanilla extracted in Orange Spirits

1 orange, zested

Powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and orange zest until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a mesh sieve, dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Note: To determine if cake is done baking, use an instant-read thermometer to take the internal temperature of the pound cake - it should be about 200 degrees.

VAIN Products Used: 

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies


1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup honey

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 tsp VAIN Vanilla extract of your choice, I used VAIN Uganda Vanilla extracted in KY Bourbon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.


Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter and honey. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture and gently stir until combined.


Roll dough into 2-Tbsp balls and place 1-in apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a crisscross pattern. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Move to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 30 cookies.


Adapted recipe from Bob's Red Mill.

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad


6 cups mixed greens, romaine and baby spinach

1 large ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled. I use Shakerage Blue from Sequatchie Cove Creamery (

1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped and toasted

1/2 cup VAIN Vanilla Vinaigrette (recipe on this site)


Make sure greens are washed and dried before placing in a salad bowl. Add pears, blue cheese, and pecans. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss with vinaigrette to taste. Greens should be lightly wet with dressing. 

Salad can also be made serving blue cheese on the side, for those who may not prefer strong flavors. Enjoy the taste of fall.

VAIN Products Used: 

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Pecan Pie Bars



1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans



4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup dark brown sugar

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons VAIN Vanilla extract (I used Uganda Vanilla extracted in Kentucky Bourbon)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 cups pecan halves, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, butter and sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/3 cup pecans.

Press crust mixture evenly onto bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake 18-22 minutes or until edges are very light golden brown.

In a medium saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over moderate heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the light corn syrup and dark brown sugar, then whisk in the eggs until thoroughly blended. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt and stir in the pecans halves until combined.

Pour the pecan filling into the prebaked pie bar crust and bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely. Cut into bars and serve.

Pecan Pie Bars

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1 tsp. VAIN Mexican Vanilla extracted in Apple Brandy (or any VAIN extract you choose)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries, about 5 oz.


Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.
At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.
* adapted from a recipe at Gourmet Magazine

VAIN Products Used: 

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Royal Icing


3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, I use our VAIN Original Baker’s Blend

4 cups confectioners' sugar


In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

VAIN Products Used: 

Royal Icing

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Squares




Cooking spray, for spraying the foil

One 11-ounce box vanilla wafers

1/2 cup pecans

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons VAIN vanilla extract, I used Uganda Vanilla extracted in Kentucky Bourbon




Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

Caramel Topping:

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

6 tablespoons salted butter

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon VAIN vanilla extract, I used Uganda Vanilla extracted in Kentucky Bourbon

Flaky sea salt, for garnish


Special equipment: a candy thermometer

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Place the vanilla wafers and pecans into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbs. Add the butter and vanilla and pulse again until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. If they come up the sides, that's okay!

For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix again.

Pour the mixture into the crust, smooth the top and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door, leaving the cheesecake to sit in the oven with the door open for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool for an hour.

For the caramel topping: Add the brown sugar and butter to a pan, set over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Add the condensed milk, corn syrup and vanilla and bring to a boil, stirring continuously.

Place a candy thermometer in the caramel mixture and continue to boil until the caramel reaches 225 degrees F. Turn off the heat and let the caramel cool for about 5 minutes before pouring over the cheesecake.

Allow to set for 2 hours, then cut into squares with a sharp knife. Arrange on a plate and garnish each square with a pinch of sea salt.

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Squares