Maple Butter Bars

  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed


  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup (205 grams) pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) half and half
  • Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or greased foil.
  2. To make the crust, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add butter and cut into dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender.
  3. Press into the prepared pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until set, but before it starts to turn brown.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachments, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, followed by maple syrup. Add the flour in 2 additions, alternating with the half and half. Mixer may appear curdled, that's okay.
  5. Pour mixture on top of crust. Bake until the center is firm with gently shaken, about 35 minutes.
  6. For best results, cool completely before slicing (I even like to chill it in the fridge for a bit for nice clean slices). Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
  7. Store leftovers in the fridge for several days.

Note: For best results use real maple syrup. Recipe courtesy of 

VAIN Products Used: 

Maple Butter Bars

Meringue Pops


1/2 cup egg whites, from fresh eggs

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. VAIN Madagascar Vanilla extracted in Vodka

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup Shatto Milk Flavoring powder (


Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

To bowl of electric mixer, add egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip until soft peaks form. Add vanilla extract. Gradually add sugars. (It should take 2 to 3 minutes to add the sugar). Whip until mixture forms stiff glossy peaks.

You can use a piping bag (or a plastic zip bag with corner snipped off), to pipe 1 inch round cookies onto lollipop sticks (I purchased mine at a local craft store) parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Turn off oven and let cookies sit for a few hours until completely dried. These keep for a few weeks if stored in a sealed container. Makes about 30 pops.

VAIN Products Used: 

Meringue Pops

Mexican Wedding Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar plus 1 cup for rolling cookies after baking

1 T Vain vanilla extract any variety

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup chopped toasted pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread chopped pecans on a sheet pan and toast until fragrant-approximately 7-10 minutes then remove and allow to cool.  Cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add Vain Vanilla and beat till combined.  Beat in flour until smooth, then pecans. Wrap dough in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Working with half of chilled dough, scoop or roll dough by 1 T at a time between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies approximately 5 minutes till firm on baking sheet. They may not feel quite set when you take out of oven, but let cool for at least 5 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container.

VAIN Products Used: 

Mexican Wedding Cookies

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