A Recipe for Every Extract: Baked Goods

Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

2 cups plus 1/3 cup flour, divided
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 cup chunky applesauce*
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Cinnamon Extract
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper baking cups. Set aside. Mix 2 cups flour, 2/3 cups sugar, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg in large bowl. Mix applesauce, milk, oil, egg and extract in medium bowl. Add flour to mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Mix remaining 1/3 cup flour, remaining 1/4 sugar and butter. Sprinkle over batter. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Serve warm.

*You can make your own applesauce. Bring 2 cored, chopped apples and ½ cup water to a boil, then reduce to bare simmer, cooking uncovered for 15 minutes. Puree apples in blender.


Chocolate Banana Cake

250 grams plain flour
50 grams Epicurious Hedgehog Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
A pinch salt
200 grams golden caster sugar
3 very ripe bananas, peeled, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Epicurious Hedgehog Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Epicurious Hedgehog Cacao Extract
125 grams butter, melted
100 grams good-quality white chocolate, chopped (optional)
50 grams toasted chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Grease and line a loaf tin.
Sift the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl and mix until well combined.

Mash the bananas in a separate bowl, stir in the eggs, extracts and melted butter.

Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate and nuts and spoon the mixture into the loaf tin.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake is risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the tin. Serve in slices.


Chocolate Orange Crownies

For cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Epicurious Hedgehog Cacao Nibs or 1 package (12 ounces) mini chocolate chips

For brownies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Epicurious Hedgehog Cocoa Powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Epicurious Hedgehog Orange Extract

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). For cookies, mix flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in nibs/chocolate chips. Set aside.

To prepare brownies, put all of the ingredients into a large bowl in the order in which they’re written. Stir, then beat the mixture until it’s smooth. Spread in greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Bake brownies 15 minutes. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto brownies, covering the top evenly. (Batter will spread during baking). Bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until cookie top is golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack before cutting into bars.


Mum’s Chocolate Nib Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Vanilla Extract
1 7/8 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups Epicurious Hedgehog Cacao Nibs or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Mix sugars, flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Mix butter, egg, vanilla together. Combine two mixtures. Add nibs/chocolate chips.

Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake until golden (10 to 12 minutes).


Mocha Molten Cakes

4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 1/2 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog Coffee Extract, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Epicurious Hedgehog Cacao Nibs, for topping

Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Butter 6 (6-ounce) custard cups or souffle dishes. Place on baking sheet.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until butter is completely melted. Stir in 4 teaspoons of the coffee extract. Stir in 1 cup of the sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in flour and cinnamon. Pour batter into prepared custard cups.

Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Meanwhile, beat cream, remaining 1/4 cups sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until firm peaks form. Refrigerate whipped cream until ready to serve.

Remove cakes from oven. Let stand one minute. Carefully loosen edges with small knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Serve immediately with whipped cream and sprinkle with cacao nibs.

Tracking Vanilla In Tanzania

At Natural Extracts Industries, Ltd. we are proud of the high-quality standards we have set for sustainable vanilla production in Tanzania.  Each year we strive to improve the processes from planting, cultivation, pollination, harvesting, purchasing and finally the curing.  How vanilla from other countries comes to market has been the target of mystery and sometimes even stories of farmer exploitation.

So, now more than ever it has become important to track the source of vanilla we collect from our farmers to provide added transparency and accountability into the supply chain of our vanilla.  As we move to certify farms producing organic vanilla, it will provide additional assurances that our farmers continue to be paid fairly and ensure certified farms continue to use best practices.

Aarti Mahajan, who joined the NEI team to lead the initiative to deploy an ICT platform, called Source Trace,  to our farmer network says, “Source Trace provides complete visibility of our vanilla from the farm to our factory.  The ease of use of the interface allows us to distribute tablets with the Source Trace application to our lead farmers.  Source Trace is a powerful tool that allows the NEI team to access real-time data anytime from anywhere in the world.”

Working with partners like Source Trace provides NEI with the forward-looking technology that will continue to make us a leading provider of the highest quality vanilla available on the world market.


March Cyclone in Madagascar

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Madagascar as they recover from the Tropical Cyclone Enawo that hit the island in early March. It was a very powerful storm, and the due to the remote nature of the areas hardest hit an accurate assessment of the impact is difficult.


The storm hit directly in the country’s primary vanilla-producing region, and this has created wild speculation on the future price of vanilla which has been rising over the last year. The immediate impact has been the increasing prices of vanilla in the global market, in part because of concerns that the beans salvaged from the storm will be brought prematurely to market.

For Natural Extracts Industries, Ltd. and the farmers in our network, there has been an impact as well. The farmers have been inundated with requests to purchase vanilla pods, and this drives up the cost of our raw vanilla as well.

We would like to assure all our customers that we will continue to source, process and cure only the highest quality of vanilla to maintain the integrity of our products. Until we can assess the long-term impact of the situation, we will continue to supply the customers who have been supporting our mission and our farmers.

Please take a moment to read further these reports about the storm, and its impact on Madagascar.

Featured photo: Tropical Cyclone “Enawo on March 3, 2017. Credit: NASA/NOAA/DoD Suomi NPP/VIIRS

What Do Seaweed and Vanilla Have in Common?

Depending on the time of day you are relaxing on the shores of Paje, Zanzibar you may see some very different settings.

When the tide is high, the beach feels busier. You can hear music from a close by restaurant, waves crashing and children playing. The water may come up to only a few meters away from your beach towel, and to your right, you can see dozens of kite surfers!

When the tide retreats the beach is a whole new place. People leave the beach to find their hotel pools, and the atmosphere becomes peaceful and calm. You no longer hear the waves because the water is so far away. You can walk 40 minutes out into the ocean, where the water would have once been as high as your shoulders.

Among this peacefulness, you will notice something strange out where the water was once a few feet deep. Perfectly lined sticks poke up from the sand. seaweed-farm

This is where the Seaweed Center grows their seaweed! When the tide is low, they are able to go out and collect the Eucheuma Spinosum, the particular type of red seaweed used in their very special products! The seaweed has many natural health benefits like antioxidants, antibacterial and antiviral properties, high levels of vitamin E, as well as being a natural source of collagen.


The Seaweed Center uses the seaweed to make soaps, body scrubs, body oils and even juice. (The scrubs smell heavenly!)You can stop by their beautiful store/production facilities to buy their products or get a tour! You get to learn how they make their natural soap and even join them to harvest the seaweed.


We think the Seaweed Center is excellent because they believe in supporting their community, sourcing organic and local materials in Tanzanian and using high-quality ingredients, just like NEI! They began 2013, and they have lots more plans for the future!

Check out their Facebook and definitely drop by to see them if you are in Zanzibar!


Easiest way to travel?


NEI is excited to welcome  Ingrédients du Monde to our distribution family! They are an online store that sells premium cooking ingredients from all around the world, and now they carry our premium Tanzanian vanilla as well! They have been distributing international flavours for 24 years, focusing in France, Netherlands and Belgium.

Feel like walking the streets of Italy? Order high-quality olive oil to your home!

Want to see the sun rise from the top of mount Kilimanjaro? You can get premium vanilla, grown on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, sent to your house!

Dream of running on the Great Wall of China? Chinese 5 spice can easily be yours from Ingrédients du Monde!

They have lots of products to choose from!


Sometimes trying a new style of cooking can be as daunting as travelling to a new place, but you need to start somewhere, we encourage to check out Ingrédients du Monde!

New Faces at NEI

As we grow and build the company at Natural Extracts Industries, Ltd. we are thrilled to welcome back one of the founders, Juan Guardado, as the new Managing Director.  In 2016 we doubled the sales income at NEI and plan to again in 2017 double our income as more farmers join our network.

Juan has been passionate about empowering the farmers and building a sustainable vanilla supply chain in Tanzania.  He brings a background working in management consulting and microfinance which will take Natural Extracts Industries to the next level.
It will come as no surprise that his favourite animal is a hedgehog because it was the inspiration behind the Epicurious Hedgehog brand that is spreading worldwide.

We are excited for the opportunity to work more closely with Juan and be a part of the company’s evolution under his direction!


Hedgehog in the Kitchen

In case you haven’t gotten enough of holiday baking here is another recipe! This one is great because the orange lightens the flavour of the cookie, which is nice after heavy flavours of the holiday season. Enjoy!!

Yummy Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

Ingredients: Yields 4 dozen

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Epicurious Hedgehog vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoons Epicurious Hedgehog orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Beat in vanilla, orange extract and orange zest until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture to the sugar mixture at low speed, beating just until incorporated.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Drop tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake until outside is crackly but the center is still moist, about 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Check our website for more recipes!

The Sweetest Thing!

Jasmine Bee Honey is a Moshi based social enterprise that works with bee farmers to bring Tanzanian honey to market.

Jasmijn Bleijerveld began the company 3 years ago to help promote environmental conservation using commercial business as an incentive. The company initiates value chain approached community beekeeping projects, which stimulate the development and growth of beekeeper entrepreneurs and beekeeping related economic activities scalable across Tanzania. They also supply modern beekeeping and processing equipment and relevant training, which allows better hive management, thus a higher yield, better quality of bees products and – crucially – an increased of female participation.

Jasmijn’s mission is to create an organic Tanzanian honey brand recognized for its quality, by supporting the traditional beekeeping sector, stimulating the sustainable development of livelihoods and conservation of biodiversity in Tanzania. 

The Jasmine Bee products include:

Kisampa Honey
Organic honey is made by wild African bees in the pristine acacia woodlands and forests of the majestic Wami River valley bordering Saadani National Park.
The honey contains no preservatives or additives and is not processed in any way. This honey also supports the Kisampa Community Conservation Sanctuary.

Njokomoni Honey
In the Udzungwa Mountains, a sharp boundary between forest and farms leads to elephant crop- raiding and conflict with communities. To reduce the crop-raiding, STEP and Njokomoni Farmers Group built a beehive fence to protect the farms against elephant raids, and provide farmers with an additional source of income. As a result, retaliatory killing of elephants has fallen to almost zero. By buying this honey, you are supporting a project which is restoring harmony between people and elephants in southern Tanzania.

We love Jasmine Bee Honey because their values of environmental and social responsibility are so similar to NEI’s!

Like them on their Facebook and check out the website www.jasminebee.net!

Silas, the Vanilla Expert!

Across from me in my office sits a humble gentleman who types quietly on his computer… for 2 minutes until he is on his way out of the office again, off to visit another farmer.

Silas Noah is one of NEI’s co-founders and even though he rarely mentions it, it made perfect sense to me once I found out! He knows everything there is to know about farming and growing vanilla, not to mention he knows each one of the Farmer Champions personally.

Silas and Juan Guardado established NEI in 2011, combining their expertise in rural development (Silas) and business development (Juan). Learn more about the history of NEI here.

Silas has personally worked with the vanilla farmers since the first day and still does. I had the chance to join him on a field visit recently and got to learn so much from him (even about clove trees) and observe him mentoring another farmer and Farmer Champion.

Last week NEI’s extension team held a meeting with all the Farmer Champions in the area, it was a great time to learn about all the challenges the farmers face. Silas was totally in his element guiding the farmers!

NEI is very lucky to have someone as positive, outgoing and smart as Silas! Thank you Silas!


Chocolatey Relaxing Face Mask, YES PLEASE

yogurtThis face mask is great after a long, hot, tiring day! It is calming and cooling and the best part…chocolatey!

It is very simple to put together! Just plain yogurt, raw honey and cacao extract! All 3 ingredients do wonders for your skin!

Yogurt contains lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural skin exfoliator yet is very gentle! High concentrations of lactic acid also make yogurt face masks hydrating because the lactic acid increases water content in the skin. An awesome bonus to yogurt is that it is a source of zinc, a mineral known for its skin repairing, healing and protecting abilities. Zinc reduces skin inflammation, quickly healing acne breakouts while also reducing excessive oil production.

Raw honey, besides tasting amazing, is also a natural antibacterial!  How cool it that?! “Raw” means that the honey hasn’t been damaged by heat, for example, lots if hone is pasteurized. This process heats up the honey to kill microorganisms, and is often done to reduce the likelihood of the honey crystallizing. But the process kills lots of the good stuff about honey that should be celebrated and utilized!  Here is a good read that better explains the problems with honey pasteurization.

So find raw honey!

Raw honey’s antiseptic and antimicrobial properties making it great for healing the skin (it is even good for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus). Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, an acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots.

Cacao extract adds a lovely aroma to this mask but also offers tons of antioxidants for your skin. Cacao has antioxidants called flavonoids, which are great for stimulating blood circulation in the skin, smoothing fine lines, and giving you a rosy glow, it is also a potent anti-inflammatory, and can help soothe redness and reduce blemishes. Extracts are a great way to get a high concentration of antioxidants!

If you want to make this mask extra rich and luxe add some cocoa powder for an extra addition of chocolatey goodness.

In small bowl, mix:

  • 3 tbsp of plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp of raw honey
  • 1 tsp of Epicurious Hedgehog Cacao Extract
  • 1 tbsp Epicurious Hedgehog Cocoa Powder (optional)

Apply the mixture to your face in a thin yet complete layer. Relax while wearing the mask for 20 minutes then rinse with warm water! I like to use this mask 2-3 times a week to keep my skin fresh and calm.

Hope you enjoy it and have a relaxing week!

For more information about Epicurious Hedgehog and Natural Extracts Industries, head to our website!