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I have never added the entire bean to my chocolate. After asking this same question at the Chocolate Alchemy forum, I discovered that this is how some of the makers do it. Then I got to wondering if the people here do the same. I was really surprised to see that this is what seems to be the norm.
Why add the vanilla bark to the chocolate? When using whole vanilla beans in a pudding or a custard, for example, you soak the whole bean and scrape the marrow. This is what I do for chocolate. I preheat the cocoa butter and soak my vanilla in it, then scrape out the marrow and add the vanilla/cocoa butter to the liquor, I toss the bark.
It may be more work this way, but to me filling the chocolate full of bark is like adding the cocoa husk. We take care to winnow the cocoa beans, why not do the same for the vanilla? The bark of the vanilla bean is basically the husk, right (or maybe the pod shell)? I am not saying this way is right or wrong, I will continue to do it this way because it's my way, but I was curious to see how many others add the whole bean. Anyone care to comment?

Andrea

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Personally I add the whole bean, it is a very small amount anyway I would only use between 1/6 to 1/3 of a bean to 1 kg of chocolate. The whole pod contains the flavouring so you would be throwing out some flavour - you just need to use more to get the same effect. The whole bean is fine to eat Askinosie is doing a rustic bar with pieces of vanilla bean embedded in the chocolate. I think for puddings and baking the reason you don't use the whole bean is because there is no way to micronise it as there is in chocolate making. I have made ice-cream from beans and some strands from the vanilla bean have been left in by accident - it doesn't ruin it but I personally don't like big bits in my ice-cream. Correct me if I am wrong but I would imagine that vanilla bean paste you can buy from the shop is whole beans ground up; pre-micronised for your cooking pleasure. HAve you ever made two batches one the way you do it and the other just putting the bean in and grinding - I would be interested to see if there was any difference in flavour profile.
No, I never tried it both ways, but I will try it with my next batch and compare it with the one I just made, same recipe. I'm curious also.

Andrea

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