Ndali Vanilla Gift Swap

I was lucky enough to get a spot at the Ndali Vanilla Gift Swap organised by Vanessa Kimbell, the author of Prepped, educating and promoting the use of Fair Trade products and specific to this event, Ndali Vanilla.

Each of the participants received Ndali vanilla pods and Ndali vanilla powder to create our items.   From the moment I opened the envelope, I was taken with the amazing smell of the vanilla.  I was a bit perplexed with how to use vanilla powder but with a bit of trial, I figured it out.

Ndali Vanilla Pods and Powder

The gift swap was organised in the form of a competition of 4 categories.  Each attendee could enter from 1 to 3 categories and the items were judged by two Fortnum and Mason employees, the owner of Rococo Chocolates, Chantal Coady, and the food writer, Lucas Hollweg.  Lucas writes for The Times and each weekend, I rush to the magazine to read his article yet I could not bring myself to tell him!  Maybe next year…

The categories offered are below.

1 – Biscuits

2 – Cakes or cupcakes

3 – Sweets

4 – Preserves

I chose to enter the cake and the biscuit categories making a Spiced Vanilla cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Iced Pumpkin Cake

and the Biscuit category making Chocolate Caramel Biscuit Bars.

Chocolate Caramel Biscuit Bars

Luckily, the items were judged on taste and not on appearance because I would not have won any awards for beauty.  I did not think through using public transport with freshly baked goods but I live and I learn!  Once there, viewing the tables, I was blown away by the creativity and skill of the other participants.

Alex’s Fruit-topped cake

Ice Cream Cone Cakes – so innovative

Fair Trade Cakes

Strawberry Cupcakes

Cake Table

Preserves Table

I came away with one of the awards in the cake categories and am thrilled.  Vanessa secured such great prizes from Kenwood so I anxiously await the mixer/blender.

Thank you to Vanessa Kimbell, all of the judges, Fortnum and Mason, Ndali Vanilla, The Fair Trade Foundation, and Kenwood for a wonderfully exciting day.

Spiced Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake Ingredients  have been split into 4 categories for easier preparation.

For cake:

Wet Ingredients

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp, Ndali vanilla powder

1 jonga bean, grated*

2 tsp, cinnamon

2 pinches, sea salt

Other Ingredients

3/4 cup, demerara sugar

1 1/4 cup, granulated sugar

1/2 cup, vegetable oil

1 200 ml package, cream cheese, softened and cubed

Egg Mixture

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup, milk

1 tsp, lemon juice

Dry Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 1/2 tsp, baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup, ground almonds

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius.

Mix wet ingredients together in a large saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring constantly for, 8 minutes.   Remove from heat and add  in other ingredients.

Saucepan of Pumpkin Puree and Spices

Ndali Vanilla Powder

Combine egg mixture and add to saucepan, stirring to combine.

Slowly add combined dry ingredients whisking to form a batter.

Vanilla Spiced Pumpkin Batter

Put batter into mini-loaf pans baking for 28 minutes.

Vanilla Spiced Pumpkin Cakes ready for the Oven

Note: if cupcakes are desired, cook for 20-22 minutes.  If a large loaf is prepared, cook for about 45 minutes.

* For those of you unfamiliar with Jonga Beans, I was too until very recently and found them at The Spice Shop with the help of the owner, Philip.  They smell and taste intensely spicy (flavourful spice, not hot) and can be used as an alternative or an accompaniment to cinnamon or nutmeg.

Tonga Beans from the Spice Shop

For Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing:

1 200 ml package, cream cheese, softened

125 grams, butter, softened

Seeds from 1 Ndali vanilla pod

2 cups, icing sugar, sifted

Cream  butter and cheese together in a large bowl.  Mix remaining above ingredients together to form icing.

Cream Cheese and Butter

Ndali Vanilla Bean

Spread icing on cooled vanilla spiced cakes.  Refrigerator until about an hour before serving.

At the end of the day, the gift swap part of the event commenced and we all got to choose numbers associated with the gifts to take another attendee’s items away.  As I had brought 2 items, I got to take 2 away and was fortunate to receive Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies from A Trifle Rushed

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies from A Trifle Rushed – Reminiscent of Childhood Memories

and Vanilla Melting Moments with Vanilla Icing from the Flying Tea Parlour.

Vanilla Melting Moments from the Flying Tea Parlour

I did offer to share but may have found good hiding spots for them.  I definitely took more than my fair share of each as they were delicious.  I have enjoyed them with many cups of tea over the last few days – thank you!

I had a wonderful time at the event but more than that, I will pause and consider what I am buying to look for Fair Trade products and remember the stories shared at the Ndali Vanilla Gift Swap.  Though it does not seem we could impact farmers and their families so far away, Vanessa’s experiences have shown me that actually, each of us can.  Reach for Fair Trade products when you can and feel good knowing that you have helped.

Fairtrade Foundation



Filed under Recipes, Shopping

4 responses to “Ndali Vanilla Gift Swap

  1. It was lovely to meet you there, your cake was very original for us Brits and stood out from the pack. Well done……hope its part of a winning streak…..lovely to visit your site and look forward to seeing you again.

  2. Pingback: Recipe – Croissant Bread Pudding from Ina Garten | London Busy Body

  3. Pingback: Juniper and Rose Cookery School Launched | London Busy Body

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