Vanilla sugar is one of my favorite things. The only problem is that it can be hard to find unless you shop gourmet grocery stores, and even then it is typically too expensive to justify the purchase. Luckily, there is an easy solution: make your own. It’s simple, quick, and it eliminates unnecessary waste by giving discarded vanilla bean pods a delicious new lease on life.
Once you’ve scraped out the seeds of a vanilla bean for a recipe, set the pod aside. Do not throw it away – it is full of flavor and aroma that shouldn’t go to waste. Instead, place the pod into a food processor with roughly two cups of granulated cane sugar. Pulse until the pod is well incorporated into the sugar and very fine. You may need to scrape the sides down a couple of times.
The resulting product will be moist, packable (like the texture of brown sugar) and aromatic, and it will be ready to use instantly. I prefer to use this type of vanilla sugar on my cinnamon toast, or as a substitute for regular sugars in baking recipes. It adds depth of flavor, and generally eliminates the need for vanilla extract.
In an airtight container, combine turbinado sugar (aka “sugar in the raw”) with one or two whole vanilla beans. A good rule to follow here is that you should use one vanilla bean per every two cups of sugar, so if you have a larger jar, adjust your vanilla bean count accordingly.
Let the jar sit for two to three weeks, lightly shaking the contents every couple of days or so. When ready, the sugar will be infused with the essence of vanilla. The vanilla beans can then be removed and reused for other purposes because they will have remained whole and undamaged in the container. I like to use this particular type of vanilla sugar in my coffee, or to sprinkle over pies and cookies. The sugar crystals are large and defined, so I find that it works best as a topping, and it gives a nice flavor boost as rimming on cocktail glasses as well.
Because vanilla sugar is so delicious and easy to prepare, it makes a great Christmas gift. To package, scour your local thrift store for some cute jars or corked bottles, and attach your favorite tag from My Own Labels. For my jars, I chose the Aunt Lorraine scalloped hang tags in periwinkle and pale peach, and I tied them on with some jute twine. Very cute.
How do you use your vanilla sugar?
- Scallop Hang Tags • I chose the “Aunt Lorraine” style in periwinkle and pale peach.