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Gourmet Housewares Show Find of the Day: Mexican Vanilla

When I was little and we took family vacations to Mexico, my mom would always buy the largest bottle of pure Mexican vanilla she could find.  Joan is not a stingy lady, but she'd lock that bottle up tight in a cabinet, safe from the sun's taste-altering rays, and swore us all to the one rule of her kitchen: Mom's special vanilla is only for pound cakes.  She measured it carefully, never wasting a drop.  That's probably why, when I saw the Mexican Vanilla showcase at the 2008 Gourmet Housewares show in Las Vegas, my first instinct was to hoard.  Once I realized that the precious Mexican vanilla was now available for sale in the U.S., I relaxed my grip on the bottle and starting tasting the samples provided by Blue Cattle Truck, the maker of the fine ingredient.

Just as I remembered, the Mexican vanilla added a smooth richness to the portioned samples of pound cake, making the classic recipe pop with flavor.  What's more, because none of them had grown up under the "Pound Cakes Only" rule, they'd added the vanilla to a variety of cookies.  Maybe it was the wonderfully intoxicating smell of vanilla wafting around me as I sampled to my heart's content, but I don't know if I've ever had a better chocolate chip cookie.  I may have to swing back by the booth for one more taste to make sure...