One of the best ways to appreciate the complex aroma of vanilla is to steep bean scrapings in cream or a mild fresh cheese like ricotta, then serve the cream or cheese as, or with, a dessert.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
Fresh fruit, for serving
How to Make It
Preheat the broiler. In a small saucepan, warm the maple syrup with the vanilla bean scrapings; let cool slightly. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the syrup. Whisk in the egg yolks until blended. Spread the ricotta in 4 shallow 5-inch gratin dishes and broil 6 inches from the heat, rotating the dishes as necessary to glaze the ricotta evenly. Serve with fresh fruit.
Wine Recommendation: Go for a light, fruity, not-too-sweet Muscat-based wine, such as the 1998 Vietti Moscato Cascinetta or the 1997 Robert Mondavi Moscato d'Oro.