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This $4.99 Trader Joe’s Seasonal Find Is Finally Available Year-Round

It’s a fraction of the price of competitors.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

I love using vanilla bean paste for baking, but most are quite expensive. That’s why I was SO excited to see Trader Joe’s new Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste on a recent visit.

In the past, Trader Joe’s has stocked a version of this decadent baking staple only during the holidays, and if you missed this seasonal item, you were out of luck. Shoppers like me lamented its exit at the start of every new year, wishing it was stocked year-round. Now, this new version is a regular item, and I and every other baking enthusiast I know are tickled pink.

TJ’s Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste comes in a four-ounce jar and it only costs $4.99.  The vanilla bean paste I get at spice shops costs anywhere from $15 to $25 (or more!) for the same amount. What a bargain!

Why I Love Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste

Once you unscrew the lid on a jar of Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste, your nose is hit with the heady fragrance of vanilla that lingers pleasantly. It’s like an expensive vanilla candle, but your discerning nose will know it’s real vanilla, without any artificial after-smell.

Vanilla bean paste concentrates the real vanilla flavors and aromas you’d get from vanilla extract while also containing real vanilla bean seeds. The vanilla beans and concentrated vanilla extract are suspended in a thick, sweet syrup. It’s like a baker’s shortcut, with a quick dollop swapped for painstakingly slicing open and scraping a vanilla bean.

<p>Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph</p>

Simply Recipes / Laurel Randolph

How I Use Trader Joe’s Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste

The first time I ever used vanilla bean paste was in a chocolate truffle-making class. My instructor taught me that it was way easier to use than scraping out a vanilla bean pod into cream, and since I typically make homemade chocolate truffles at least twice a year for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, I love to have it on hand. I make my chocolate truffles using vanilla bean paste, very dark chocolate, heavy cream, and then a flavoring like mint or coffee.

Read More: How to Make Homemade Chocolate Truffles

I also think vanilla bean paste is perfect for cakes and cookies. A simple butter cake made with vanilla bean paste is elevated to the point that you can serve it almost naked or with just a dollop of sweetened cream or crème fraîche and maybe a few berries if you’re feeling fancy.

While you can use it to dial up the vanilla flavor in absolutely every kind of recipe that calls for vanilla extract (marshmallows, ice cream, and whipped cream, especially), you can use it in other ways. I love adding it to sweet potatoes—roast them, mash, and then stir in butter, salt, and vanilla bean paste.

I drizzle just a 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon along with a teaspoon or two of honey and maybe a tablespoon of rum on top of a fruit salad or compote. You can also mix a little into yogurt with a tablespoon or two of concentrated orange juice to make a quick and delicious dip for a fruit platter.

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.