The Difference Between Vanilla Powder And Vanilla Paste

Everyone loves dessert — especially desserts with vanilla in them. People love it even more when said desserts are laden with vanilla bean specks all throughout, the same way that crème brûlée custard does. According to Epicurious, regardless of the form, vanilla bean has become a pantry staple in many homes across the United States. 

There are many ways to get that rich vanilla flavor into things like coffee, tea, and desserts through the use of ingredients like vanilla bean pods, vanilla bean extract, vanilla bean powder, and vanilla bean paste. While many know the general functions of both vanilla bean pods and pure vanilla extract, unless you're a seasoned baker or pastry chef, you might not know what exactly vanilla bean powder and vanilla bean paste are and how they're used.

Depending on what you are looking to achieve with your dish, what you use could be critical to the overall end result. Cooks Illustrated notes that while both vanilla powder and vanilla paste can be somewhat interchangeable, both are properly suited for two different manners of cooking and baking.

Where vanilla powder works well with dry ingredients, vanilla paste works well with wet ingredients

Cooks Illustrated reports that both ingredients are great additions to any dish, but that the two are uniquely suited for completely different recipes. Vanilla powder works best with dishes that call for a larger amount of dry ingredients, like cakes and cupcakes. Vanilla paste, on the other hand, fares much better with desserts that incorporate a higher ratio of wet ingredients like crème brûlée and the Italian dessert panna cotta. What's more, vanilla paste adds that lovely vanilla bean speckling that everyone loves throughout custardy desserts.

A positive about using either ingredient over vanilla extract is that you don't get the slightly alcoholic aftertaste that some vanilla extracts leave, Spiceography explains. The publication asserts that at-home bakers could feasibly use vanilla powder and vanilla paste interchangeably, but that it is good to note the textural differences between the two as each could throw off the wet ingredient to dry ingredient ratio of desserts like macarons. Unlike vanilla powder, vanilla paste can also add a light brown tone to desserts that are a white/cream hue or are brightly-colored.