As I was laying in bed last night
stressing thinking about what wonderful things to feature on my blog next I realized...I had never ever shown you all how to make your own vanilla sugar! I could have punched myself! What the heck, Christina?? What.the.heck?
I couldn't believe my own thoughts! Sure I've shown you all how to make your own vanilla extract, but with so many more recipes calling for (and enhanced by) the simple and amazing thing that is- vanilla sugar- I should have shown this long ago.
Actually, I was recently in a...hmmm maybe I should leave the store nameless..? I was recently in a well known cooking store (hehe) and saw they were selling vanilla sugar- for an outrageous price! Don't even get me started on the amount that accompanied that outrageous price. Shenanigans I say. Shenanigans.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about...or why this "vanilla sugar" thing is such a big deal...TRUST ME- make some and you'll soon figure it out. Vanilla sugar is such a simple ingredient...but what it does as a sweetener is purely amazing. It will add a warmth and subtle yummy flavor to anything you add it to. We use ours in all desserts, but my husband also uses some to occasionally sweeten his coffee or tea, and breakfast cereal. Just opening the jar sends a wonderful aroma of vanilla air throughout. Sure you have to spend a little money upfront, when making your own sugar and extract (vanilla beans are a pricey little thing). But what you're left with is an endless amount of delicious product. One little vanilla bean will make far more than you're getting at your local "well known cooking store". This I promise.
1. Vanilla Beans
2. Granulated Sugar
I like to get my vanilla beans from this lovely online store, but I have also been known to get them from here as well.
The thing about vanilla sugar is there are no real amounts...you add as many pods as you want to whatever size container you have. The more bean pods = stronger vanilla sugar, less pods = less strong sugar. For my 4 cup jar I have about 10ish beans and bean pieces (some brand new pods, some used in previous recipes, washed and dried). You'll be good to go if your stick to one pod and it's beans scraped out and added- to 12 ounces (1.5 cups) of granulated sugar.
Here's the other awesome thing: this is a "continue refilling as you use" type of product. Meaning...say you use a cup or two in a recipe..DON'T FRET! Just refill your container with more granulated sugar! Can't really smell the vanilla anymore when you open your container? Add another bean or two, and so on. This stuff will last you for-eva-eva.
What I typically do is fill up my container with granulated sugar, after each use. This is only because I like to have a full stocked vanilla sugar container at all times. I also use a lot of this stuff. Whenever I use a vanilla bean for a recipe (say ice cream, jam, or such) I just rinse off that bean, dry it well, and add to my sugar. You'll be surprised at how fragrant a used vanilla bean still is. Every so often I'll give the whole thing a good shake, and every few months I'll "refresh" the whole thing by adding a fresh bean and it's scraped out insides.
Pretty economical huh? So your major money you spent at the beginning for your vanilla beans is actually able to be s t r e t c h e d out into a product that will last a long time. And figuring some of those beans you add to your sugar were actually used for some other recipe, and instead of being thrown away are being added to your vanilla sugar...that's major savings there.
Here's what ya do:
1. Find a nice glass air tight container (plastic is fine too), I bought mine from le Target. Also known as...Target. I got all fancy-smancy and painted some chalkboard paint on each container so I could label what each container was (seriously helps when you have three flours and 3+ types of sugar).
2. Fill said container half way with your sugar.
3. Cut vanilla beans open down the center (length-wise) and scrape out that delicious bean-inside.
4. Add vanilla pod and beans to glass jar of sugar.
5. Fill remaining jar with sugar.
6. Shake well.
7. Let sit at least 24 hours.
8. Use as needed. Refill as you go. Add more beans every so often.
Wanna really impress your friends? Make a big batch of this, jar it up in cute little glass jars, gift tag em, and hand out as gifts or wedding/bridal shower favors! OHMYGOSHNOSHEDIDNT!
Have fun friends!