Friday, November 23, 2012

Vanilla Beans & How to Make Vanilla Sugar

Madagascar Vanilla Beans
I absolutely love vanilla. It is one baking ingredient that I could not live without. About a year and a half ago, I discovered vanilla beans. These little pods are so delicious and there are so many things you can make and use them in. Vanilla beans are not created equal. The first vanilla beans that I purchased were very expensive (were talking $10 for 2 pods), dry and brittle and had no aroma. I thought this was normal. Oh, not so! I just hadn't discovered what a good vanilla bean was. 

About a year ago I stumbled across a great website, Beanilla. This website and company is amazing! They have several varieties of gourmet vanilla beans, extracts and extract-making supplies. This is the best website I've found that offered high-quality products with reasonable prices. I loved browsing and learning about all the different types of vanilla beans. After reading about the different types of beans, I bought some Madagascar vanilla beans to try out. When they arrived in the mail, I could not believe my eyes! These vanilla beans were plump and when I took them out of the package, the aroma was intoxicating. The beans have a superior quality-- no splits or breaks and they have a high moisture content. The first time I baked with them, I split one open and it was chuck-full of vanilla caviar. Madagascar vanilla beans have a very full, smooth and rich flavor, which complements many baking dishes. You can store vanilla beans for up to a year, so go buy some and experiment with them in your baking. I will also be posting more recipes on how to use them, so stay tuned. Do you want to win some of this yummy vanilla beans? Just enter my giveaway for them here.

Vanilla Bean Sugar
One of my new favorite baking ingredients to have on hand is vanilla sugar. It smells amazing and it's something fun to use to add a gourmet twist to your baking dishes. You can use vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar in any baking recipe. You can also use it in tea, homemade hot chocolate and as a garnish. I also use it in homemade puddings, on top of pies, etc.

I made a big batch of vanilla sugar and put it in cute little jars for Christmas gifts. Just add a cute little label and you have a super cute, gourmet gift for friends and family. And who doesn't love getting personally homemade things for Christmas? I found these cute jars from The Container Store. They worked perfect! I love the 7.75oz jars for gift-giving and the 16-oz or 25oz jar for storing my vanilla sugar.

Here's what you need: (You can make a larger batch, just make sure you use at least a 1:1 ratio of vanilla beans to sugar. You can use more beans, you will just have a stronger vanilla flavor.)
-2 Madagascar beans, whole
-2 C. organic cane sugar (you can use regular sugar, but I like the flavor of cane sugar better)
-Food processor or heavy-duty blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec
-Airtight glass jar or container

When you get your vanilla beans, let them dry out for a day or two so that they don't have as much moisture content.

Place your vanilla beans in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of sugar. Blend until the vanilla bean is completely mixed. If you are using a Vitamix or Blendtec, make sure you don't use the highest setting for longer than 5-10 seconds at a time or you will end up with powdered sugar. After you blend, you may still have a few pencil-tip sized pieces throughout your mixture. If it bothers you just blend a little longer.

Transfer your sugar mixture into a bowl. Add the remaining cup of sugar. Stir together.

Stir and transfer to an airtight glass container of your choice. Use in any baking recipe, in tea or hot chocolate or as a garnish on pies, cakes, fruit, etc. Whenever you have any leftover vanilla bean pods, just throw them into your vanilla sugar and it will add more aroma. Enjoy and happy baking!

Gift-giving idea

Printable recipe:

Vanilla Sugar

2 Madagascar vanilla beans, whole (Allow to dry out for a few days)
2 C organic cane sugar
airtight glass container

Place whole vanilla beans in food processor or blender with 1 cup of sugar. Blend until vanilla beans are completely blended and incorporated into sugar. Remove from blender or food processor and transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add last cup of sugar and stir to combine. Transfer to an airtight glass container.

No comments:

Post a Comment