If you love to bake and make deserts, you probably know how essential the use of good vanilla extract is to create an outstanding dish. Some recipes have a very basic list of ingredients; and what most affects the results is the quality of the ingredients. Take for example the classic recipe for shortbread; all it takes is four ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. The quality of the products that you use will affect the quality of your cookies. As far as I’m concerned, vanilla extract is the single most important ingredient that makes the largest difference in the flavor of many deserts.
I had been searching for my favorite vanilla extract for years. Madagascar Vanilla is considered, by many professionals in the food industry, to be the best. I have tried many different vanilla extract products that were made from those beans, but was never impressed. My quest for the best vanilla extract came to an end a couple of years ago, when a friend of mine came back from Mexico and gave me vanilla extract called D’Lis. It was divine. It is the best vanilla extract I have ever tried. It had a darker color and thicker consistency from any vanilla extract that I’d used before. Its rich flavor, and multiple layers or aroma, consisted of a combination of coffee, toffee, chocolate, caramel, molasses, and flowers.
When I tested it for the first time, it triggered in me an old memory. In the desert of Israel, the Arava, there is a small but very well-known dairy farm in a kibbutz called Yotvata where they make the best mocha in the world. If you ever visit Israel, I highly recommend trying Yotvata Mocha. Over the years I made many attempts to imitate their unique flavor but to no avail. I couldn’t figure out what was the ingredient that gave this drink its special flavor. But now I know. They use Mexican vanilla. That’s the secret ingredient that I’ve been after for so long.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find D’Lis vanilla extract in the US. Thus started another search online and in local stores for something similar in flavor and quality. That was how I discovered Usumacinta Pure Mexican Vanilla on Amazon. At first I bought the small bottle of 8.4oz(250ml) just to try and see if it was any good. It is not identical to D’Lis in flavor and aroma, but it was close enough for me to like it. Now each time I buy it, I get the 16.8oz (500ml) bottle, which costs less than $20. In my kitchen, such a bottle lasts for two months.
I still like the D’Lis vanilla extract the best, but until I can get it from Mexico, Usumacinta vanilla extract is a wonderful product that I can find in the US. If you know how to find D’Lis vanilla extract in the US, or you have your own recommendation of a very good vanilla extract, please share it in the comments below.