There’s always someone on your Christmas list who’s difficult to shop for. They have everything they need and don’t give any hints about what to give them (hmmm, that sounds a bit like me!). If they’re are a bit of a foodie or love baking, the RedBalloon MarketPlace has gourmet gift box subscriptions (they’re not just about crazy experiences!). Not just a gift hamper, you have the option to subscribe for one, three, six or twelve months, getting a curated box of gourmet food, wine or lifestyle goods.
I sampled the Heilala Vanilla Sweet box. I love vanilla – there’s something about that smell that is just divine. Heilala Vanilla is grown in an organic plantation in the Kingdom of Tonga and processed in New Zealand, with products such as vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract and vanilla syrup. The RedBalloon gift boxes contain two full-sized products and a recipe book. I was excited when this box arrived on my doorstep:
Opening up the box was a bit of a letdown though – large box, a couple of small items on the inside. I knew what to expect, but over-sized boxes still somehow get my hopes up.
Once I got over that disappointment, it was time to breath in that gorgeous vanilla fragrance. Ooo, that gets my mouth-watering and I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen (OK, it took me two weeks – not enough baking happening here are the moment!). The two products in my box were Pure Vanilla Bean Sugar and Vanilla Syrup, with a leaflet with 9 recipes and a history of Heilala. (Another minor disappointment was not getting the vanilla bean paste, which I’ve heard wonderful things about – oh well, I’ll have to keep waiting).
I managed to resist the urge to drink the syrup straight, and decided to use the vanilla sugar to make marshmallows. Homemade marshmallows (see recipe below) are so much tastier than ones from the supermarket, and perfect to test the flavour of the vanilla sugar. They’re much easier to make than you’d think too.
And at this Christmas-y time of year, cutting the marshmallow into stars gives them a festive touch (and an excuse to eat the scrappy bits!).
Here’s the recipe:
60ml (1/4 cup) water
2 tsp gelatine powder
70g (1/3 cup) vanilla sugar
Icing Sugar, to dust
Line a lamington pan with non-stick baking paper.
Place water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with the gelatine and allow the gelatine to soften for a minute or two.
Add the vanilla sugar. Place over low heat and stir until gelatine and sugar dissolve (there will still be flecks of vanilla bean that won’t dissolve).
Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Use an electric beater to beat for 10 minutes or until thick, light and fluffy. Spread over the prepared tray to form a 2cm-thick, 16cm square. Smooth the surface as best you can (mine was still quite bumpy). Set aside for 1 hour or until set (which gives you plenty of time to lick the beaters!).
Use a small star-shaped cookie cutter, to cut stars from the marshmallow, dipping the cutter in icing sugar to stop it sticking. Lightly dust icing sugar over the cut edges, top and bottom. Place upside down to serve (to hide the lumpy bits).
These were seriously yummy and the vanilla flavour is perfect. They’re not completely white, but have a slight caramel tinge and tiny flecks of vanilla. That just adds to the homemade character of them.
- I’ve still got lots of vanilla sugar leftover – perfect for cookies, cakes of pancakes. I’m thinking of adding a dash of vanilla syrup to a summer cocktail (there’s a recipe in the booklet for Vanilla, Lime and Ginger Fizz Cocktail that sounds like my kind of summer drink).
If you like the look of this (or other RedBalloon subscriptions or experiences!), receive $20 off when you spend $79 or more, using the promotional code REDBLOG14 at the checkout to receive your discount. Offer valid until 30/06/2014. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here: http://www.redballoon.com.au/help/terms-conditions
What treats would you make with this vanilla pack?
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary subscription box to facilitate this review, and an administration fee from Digital Parents Collective. As always, all opinions expressed are purely my own.