Vanilla beans, vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, vanilla bean sugar. For someone who had never used a vanilla bean until recently, I am now someone who is going into panic mode as and when I use up a bean from my jar. Oh joy! I am now discovering how amazing these can be when used in cakes and desserts. These tiny tiny seeds offer so much of flavor and aroma, it just doesn’t cease to impress me. Not just the extract which makes a good 180 ml bottle full with just 3 or 4 beans, the vanilla pod can be reused for making vanilla sugar and vanilla bean sugar again. After the seeds are scraped out, the pod still has tons of flavor in it. So don’t ever throw away the pods after use. You could put the washed and dried pods in a jar of granulated sugar and allow the aroma to be gradually infused into the sugar. As and when the sugar is used up, you could top up with more. Use this in place of regular sugar in any bake or as a crunchy topping over cakes, sweet breads, cookies or just about anything.
You could make Vanilla Bean Sugar which is vanilla pods ground fine in a food processor along with granulated sugar (regular or caster). You get the aroma of vanilla in the processed sugar which can be used in place of ordinary powdered sugar on top of your waffles, pancakes or French toast. Doesn’t take much to up the gourmet factor in a ridiculously simple way, does it?
Now that we know the magic of vanilla, could we just not use more of the extract in a baked product to heighten the effect? No. Too much of extract will make your cake or cookie or scones taste bitter. Conversely, adding vanilla beans, just enough extract and sugar will give more of the vanilla taste and aroma without making it bitter. Isn’t that reason enough to make your vanilla sugar and vanilla bean sugar and stock up on good quality vanilla beans?
Here is how you make your vanilla bean sugar. Reference from multiple sources, including Baking 911.com Nachiketa and Shaheen.
All you need is
Sugar – 250 grams (granulated or caster)
Used and dried vanilla pods – 2-3
Using scissors, cut the pods into small pieces. Process the beans along with some of the sugar until very fine. Sieve. Use any bits again while grinding the next batch of sugar. Mix everything well till you have an uniform mixture. I seem to have taken the scraping the seeds out bit a tad too seriously while using the bean, so my beans did not have a whole lot of seeds left. If yours do and if the seeds clump, rub the clumped bits between your fingers with some of the powdered sugar. This will help them get distributed evenly. Store in an airtight container.
Put this in a jar on your dining table! Fast!!