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

Spiced Apple Butter


5 lbs. peeled and cored tart apples

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. pie spice

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. VAIN Vanilla extract (we recommend either Tanzanian Vanilla in Spiced Rum or Mexican Vanilla in Apple Brandy)


Combine all ingredients EXCEPT vanilla extract in a heavy bottomed non-reactive pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat and allow to simmer covered until all ingredients are very tender.  Remove from heat and puree in batches, either in a blender or with an immersion mixer or food mill until very smooth.  Return to heat and simmer uncovered until reduced by approximately 1/3 (should be thick, dark, and glossy). Allow to cool to room temperature and then stir in vanilla extract.  Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

VAIN Products Used: 

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Rum and Cider Sangria


1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup water

1 cinnamon stick

2 cloves

Pinch of grated nutmeg

1 Tbsp VAIN vanilla, Tanzanian vanilla in spiced rium

2½ cups chilled hard apple cider

1 cup chilled dark rum

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 green apple, chopped

6 orange slices, halved


Bring the maple syrup and water to a boil in a small saucepan with the cinnamon stick, cloves, and nutmeg. Let cool; discard the cinnamon stick and cloves. Combine with hard apple cider, rum, pomegranate seeds, apple, VAIN vanilla and orange slices. Serve chilled.

Note: Can also use Sparkling Apple Cider for a refreshing less-alcoholic drink.

VAIN Products Used: 

Spiced Rum and Cider Sangria

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars


Crumb layers


  • 1 1/3 cups (188g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (120g) rolled old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp VAIN Mexican Vanilla extracted in Apple Brandy
  • 1 3/4 cups (273g) hulled and diced strawberries (from 12 oz whole)
  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) 1/4-inch thick diced rhubarb
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (71g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (9g) cornstarch




    For the crumb layer:

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 9-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper, butter parchment (if you don't care to lift the bars out of the pan before cutting you can just butter the dish, no parchment needed).
    • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds. Add in oats, brown sugar and granulated sugar and whisk to blend, while using fingertips to break up small clumps of brown sugar. Whisk vanilla into melted butter then pour melted butter over oat mixture. Stir with a spatula until mixture is evenly moistened. Press 2/3 of the mixture into prepared baking dish, set aside remaining 1/3.

    For the filling:

    • Add diced strawberries and rhubarb to a medium mixing bowl. Toss with lemon juice. In a small mixing bowl whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Pour sugar mixture over strawberry mixture and toss to coat. Pour strawberry mixture over bottom crumb layer in baking dish. Evenly sprinkle remaining 1/3 crumb mixture over top. Bake in preheated oven until top is golden brown and crisp and filling is bubbling, about 45 - 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm then cut into squares. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.

    Recipe source: Cooking Classy

    VAIN Products Used: 

    Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars

    Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool


    3/4 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)

    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    7 oz. strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced (1 heaping cup)

    1 Tbsp Vain Mexican Vanilla Extracted in Apple Brandy

    Fine sea salt or table salt

    3/4 cup heavy cream

    1 Tbs. confectioners sugar

    2 tsp. Vain Vanilla, I used Tahitian Vanilla extracted in Cane Rum


    Toss the rhubarb with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. In a small bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Let sit, stirring each occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and juice begins to collect, about 30 minutes. Add the strawberry juice and a pinch of salt to the rhubarb, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is falling apart, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Vain Vanilla and strawberries, and transfer the compote to a bowl. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, about 1-1/2 hours. (To speed the chilling, stir the compote over a bowl of ice water until cold, about 20 minutes.)

    In a chilled metal bowl, whisk the cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Add Vain Vanilla Extract, and continue whipping to medium peaks. Set aside 1/3 cup of the cold compote, and fold the rest into the whipped cream just until the mixture looks streaky. Spoon into 6 glasses or dessert bowls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. (Refrigerate the remaining compote, too.) Serve topped with the remaining compote.

    VAIN Products Used: 

    Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool

    Sugar Cookie


    3 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg, beaten
    1 tablespoon milk
    1 tsp. vanilla extract, I use our VAIN Original Baker’s Blend

    Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough


    Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg, vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

    VAIN Products Used: 

    Sugar Cookie

    Sweet Potato Pecan Bread


    1 lb cooked sweet potato (canned will work-just rinse and drain thoroughly)

    Zest of 1 orange

    4 eggs lightly beaten

    1 cup vegetable oil

    2/3 cup water

    1 Tbsp. VAIN Vanilla

    2 1/2 cup sugar

    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 tsp. baking soda

    1 1/2 tsp. salt

    1 Tbsp. pie spice

    1/4 tsp. ground ginger

    3/4 cup pecan pieces


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two (2) 9x5x3 loaf pans.

    Toast pecan pieces in oven until fragrant (approx 10 min).  Sift all dry ingredients together.  Mix wet ingredients until well combined.  Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until well combined-do not over mix.  Stir in pecan pieces.  Divide batter evenly between 2 loaf pans.  Bake on middle rack until skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, approximately 50 min.

    Sweet Potato Pecan Bread

    The Perfect Ginger Snap


    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger

    2 teaspoons baking soda

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    3/4 cup shortening

    1 cup white sugar

    1 T Vain Vanilla

    1 egg

    1/4 cup dark molasses

    1/3 cup vanilla sugar


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

    Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to blend evenly.

    Cream together the shortening and sugar.  Add molasses and egg, beat until well incorporated. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the shortening mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms.scoop small balls of dough (approx 1T), roll each ball in vanilla sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

    Bake in preheated oven until the tops are flattened and slightly cracked, about 10-12 minutes (cookies should be dark brown). Cool cookies completely on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

    Vanilla Sugar: Into 1/3 cup granluated sugar, scrape the caviar of one vanilla bean. Mix with a fork and leave to dry for 20 minutes. You can also put 1-2 vanilla beans into a small canister of sugar and let combine for at least two days. Then keep "feeding" this canister your used vanilla beans. Delicious!

    The Perfect Ginger Snap



    6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature

    1/4 cup sugar plus 1 T sugar

    1/4 cup good dark rum, divided

    1/4 cup any variety of VAIN vanilla extracted in cane rum

    1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, divided

    16  ounces mascarpone cheese

    30 Italian ladyfingers, or 1 recipe homemade ladyfingers

    cocoa powder

    Confectioners' sugar (optional)


    Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until very thick and light yellow. Lower the speed to medium and add half of the rum and half of the vanilla extract, 1/4 cup espresso, and the mascarpone. Whisk until smooth.

    Combine the remaining rum, vanilla, 1 T of sugar, and 1 1/4 cups espresso in a shallow bowl. Dip 1 side of each ladyfinger in the espresso/rum mixture and line the bottom of a 9 by 12 by 2-inch dish. Pour half the espresso cream mixture evenly on top. Dip 1 side of the remaining ladyfingers in the espresso/rum mixture and place them in a second layer in the dish. Pour the rest of the espresso cream over the top. Smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

    Before serving, dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder.

    VAIN Products Used: