Sunday, June 17, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Sugar


I make real vanilla sugar regularly to use in baked goods, hot chocolate, tea, pancakes, oatmeal and candy making. It's absolutely delicious in coffee or sprinkled on fresh fruit too. The delicate taste and aroma of real vanilla beans cannot be beat. It smells exotic and familiar at the same time. 

When company comes to visit, a bowl filled with this vanilla sugar is always on the table. One guest told me having tea with vanilla sugar is similar to the tea his grandmother used to make for him when he was young. It's subtle and comforting. Vanilla seems to remind people of simpler times and days gone by. Nostalgia is never a bad thing in this hectic, modern world. Knowing it's hanging around my kitchen makes me happy.     

It's wonderful in this mixed berry sauce.



I use my vanilla sugar in my favorite deep, dark rich, moist, cakey, fudgey brownies with sea salt. The best I've ever made! 




Vanilla Sugar Recipe 
Adapted from Jacques Pepin's book Essential Pepin 

Some Notes: 

This recipe can be made entirely with raw cane sugar or white sugar or a combination of both. I use what I have in my cupboard, most of the time it's a bit of both. 

For vanilla-cinnamon sugar, stir in some ground cinnamon. I love Penzeys Spices Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon. Cinnamon Sugar is great on buttered toast or French toast. 

Vanilla Sugar makes a special holiday gift too. Put it a glass mason jar tied with a colorful bow. Add a label. Viola, instant homemade gift. 

You'll Need:
  • 4 cups of natural cane sugar or white sugar or a mix of both. I like Trader Joe's brand.
  • 2-3 vanilla beans. I buy fresh Madagascar Penzeys Vanilla Beans  because they're high quality, soft and fabulous. You can add more vanilla beans for a stronger flavor and aroma.

The Rundown:

  1. Take the tip of a knife and split the vanilla beans open lengthwise. Scrape the teeny tiny black seeds from the inside of the vanilla beans. Place the soft seeds and the split beans in a bowl with the sugar. Stir to combine. Store in an airtight container. You can use the sugar at this point or continue on to step two.
  2. Once the beans are dry (this may take a few weeks), grind them up in a food processor or spice grinder to a fine powder and place the ground beans back into the sugar. Mix to combine. You don't have to do this step, but it does add more delicious vanilla flavor to the sugar. Add more sugar as needed. Keep a steady supply going by following this method.   

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