Friday, April 20, 2007

Mexican Vanilla~a fine vintage

Diploma of Honour, Gold Medal and First Prize at the Vanilla Exhibition~not quite the Nobel Prize but for Vanilla pretty impressive!
La Vencedora Pilgrimage

Hidden treasures to be found in Mexico!

Almost any discerning baker in Texas will tell you the best vanilla to bake with is La Vencedora from Mexico. My family has been using it for as long as I can remember. The strong vanilla flavor is so wonderful & pure that cooks use less of the Mexican vanilla than a recipe calls for in most cases. Before the vanilla was more mainstream it was sold at Mexican border towns in the local liquor stores. I personally have been known to carry multiple bottles of it home in my luggage when I lived in Florida. That practice has produced some highly scented luggage...So, imagine my surprise when I found it was nearly impossible to find good vanilla in the state of Coahuila! It seems that the lesser quality vanillas are sold here locally. I did a vast amount of research & asking everyone where to find La Vencedora. After some sleuthing I discovered it was made in San Luis Potosi. On our visit to San Luis Potosi I was taken to the actual Vanilla factory. Tucked back down a small lane in a historic district is the La Vencedora headquarters. The small unassuming building is known for the distributing the award winning, best vanilla in Mexico. Cooks are known to bid on ebay for whole cases of the fragrant liquid in the bottle with the familiar "red rooster" on the label. La Vencedora is bottled, brewed & distributed from San Luis Potosi since 1917. This vanilla is also a wonderful addition to a pot of coffee, 2-3 Tablespoons adds a heavenly aroma & flavor. he recipe included in this post combines the flavors of Vanilla & Cajeta which is also a product of San Luis Potosi. Enjoy!

Pay de Queso y Nuez con Cajeta (Pecan Cheesecake with Caramel)

*Coronado brand Cajeta, found in most Mexican grocery stores

2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 c. pecans

1 1/2 cups (4 1/2 ounces) finely crushed vanilla wafers, graham cracker may be used as well. Both can be hard to find items in Mexico.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 lb cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, La Vencedora brand if possible!
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together crushed vanilla wafers and butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer to a 9 inch spring form pan. Pat the crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In an electric mixer bowl beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat just until smooth & mixed well.

Drizzle the cajeta evenly over the prepared crust. Pour the cheese filling over the cajeta. Bake until the cheesecake is firm, 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately place in the refrigerator on a kitchen towel. Chill for 15 to 20 minutes.

Mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl. Pour over the top of the cheesecake and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Place a circle of pecan halves around the entire outer edge of the cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.

To Serve
Release the sides of the spring form pan leaving the cake in the bottom and place the cake on a serving plate. Heat the remaining cajeta to lukewarm. Drizzle some of it around the plate. Slice the cake, place the slices on individual plates, drizzle each serving with more cajeta, and garnish with the remaining chopped nuts.

*If you cannot find Mexican Cajeta you may substitute 1 can of "La Lechera" Dulce de Leche instead. The caramel flavor makes this dish. "La Lechera" is sweetened condensed milk cooked down to a creamy caramel. It is used in Tres Leches.

If you happen to be in the region & want to stop for a visit:
La Vencedora Vanilla
Arteaga No. 150
San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosi, 78340

Barrio de San Sebastián


ClaudiaH said...

When we went to Mexico City about 1993, I was told, I think by my Dad, who was a great cook and recipe afficionado, to look for vanilla. I looked everywhere and asked everywhere. I didn't know that brand, but I would ask for "vy knee a." I didn't find any Mexican vanilla anywhere to bring back.

Dee said...

Mexican vanilla!! worth it's weight in gold!

Lauren said...

ooohh I want to make that cheesecake!