I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I am not a huge sweets person. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t NOT like sweets (how many more negatives can I fit into that sentence, I wonder…), it’s just that a little sweet goes a long way for me. It’s a lot easier for me to stop eating cake than it is for me to exercise any control over devouring an entire bag of chips. I’m looking at you, Doritos…
Even so, with a strong love of baking and creating in the kitchen, it is inevitable that sweets and desserts are going to make a regular appearance in our home. Luckily, I have two young daughters and a darling husband that are always willing to make the ultimate sacrifice by standing in as quality control in the dessert department.
So when we do sweet stuff, we like to do it up big and go the extra mile. Queue vanilla sugar – because why shouldn’t sugar be extra, too?
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Vanilla Sugar is Stupid Easy, Yet Brilliantly Delicious
Vanilla sugar is so ridiculously simple to throw together that I am sad I didn’t know about it sooner. If you have 5 minutes and a couple of vanilla bean pods to spare, you have ample time to elevate a cup of sugar into something magnificent. Seriously, that is all it takes – 5 minutes, vanilla bean pod and sugar. It almost takes longer to think about it.
A Great Way to Repurpose Vanilla Bean Pods
If you have ever purchased vanilla beans, you are well aware that they are not exactly the most economical per ounce ingredient. For years, I substituted vanilla beans for vanilla extract (or, I am ashamed to admit, imitation vanilla extract in my younger years) in recipes, and the results were – you guessed it – substandard. But I just couldn’t justify splurging on vanilla beans for a cake or homemade ice cream.
So when I first stumbled upon homemade vanilla extract and vanilla bean sugar, I nearly jumped for joy at the prospect of extending the life of the precious beans. No longer did my desserts have to suffer from an inferiority complex, but could finally realize their full potential as intended.
When a recipe calls for the beans from a vanilla pod, I split the pod, scrape out the beans and place the pod in a glass container with 1 cup of sugar and give it a good mix. Let sit for at least a week before using. I daresay it doesn’t get much easier than that!
Additionally, after using vanilla beans to make 2 to 3 rounds of vanilla extract, I will remove the pods and lay them out to dry for at least 24 hours. I then add 1 pod per 1 cup of sugar and let sit for at least a week. Each time a bean is repurposed, the potency does decrease, but while there is still flavor to be had, it is worth the effort. I try to stretch my dollars by extracting every bit of flavor I can from my vanilla beans.
Vanilla Sugar Makes a Thoughtful Gift
Just like vanilla extract, vanilla sugar makes a thoughtful homemade gift that the recipient is sure to swoon over. Try packaging in one of these cute containers and add a custom label for some real ‘wow’ factor. Check out these printable labels that are free just for you! There is a floral version and a confetti version available. Enjoy one or both!
If you want to kick it up a notch for someone special, include some homemade vanilla sugar in a gift basket filled with other homemade items, kitchen goodies and home accessories. Wrap in a cellophane bag and finish off with a pretty bow and – BAM! – you have evolved into a master-level gift giver.
When To Use Vanilla Sugar
You can use vanilla sugar anywhere you would use typical sugar in equal ratios. I especially recommend utilizing vanilla sugar where vanilla is the star of the show. Sugar cookies, homemade whipped cream, homemade vanilla bean frosting, cheesecake, creme brulee, vanilla cake and coffee sweetener are just a few great options.
Try using vanilla confectioner’s sugar sifted generously over waffles, pancakes or a Dutch baby. And while we’re talking about vanilla confectioner’s sugar, it is absolutely glorious in my current guilty pleasure – a London Fog Tea Latte. Seriously, I indulge in a cuppa this every night.
I avoid using vanilla sugar in recipes with strong flavors such as chocolate cake and brownies. The vanilla flavor gets lost among stronger flavors so may as well stick to standard sugar in these cases.
Homemade Vanilla Sugar
- 1 Whole vanilla bean pod
- 2 Cups granulated sugar
- Cut vanilla bean pod lengthwise.
- Scrape the seeds out of the bean pod using the back of a paring knife.
- Add to the airtight container of your choice along with the sugar.
- Give mixture a gentle stir and bury bean pod into sugar mixture.
- Secure container tightly and allow to sit for at least one week.
- Use vanilla sugar anywhere you would use regular, granulated sugar.
What are you going to add vanilla sugar to first?
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