Vanilla Sugar

When I think of the word Vanilla, the word warm walks into my mind and sits right next to it.

Vanilla is anything but just vanilla.Try various types of vanilla, and you can taste that each kind is just slightly different. With each taste, other words like spicy, bold, or mild will join the vanilla table in your mind.

Each type of vanilla is influenced by the earth and sky that they were grown in and under. Each region carries different flavor notes in their version of the hand-pollinated, vanilla bean orchid.Β  Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian are three of the primary places where vanilla is grown. My favorite is Mexican vanilla, followed closely by Tahitian vanilla. Blending vanilla is another great way to get a unique and balanced flavor into your foods.

I have three methods of extracting vanilla beans from their dried earthy-scented pods. The first way is the simplest, split the bean in half and scrape the seeds with a back of a knife and add it to your creation.

The second way is a bit more complicated, but it is my favorite. Snip the bottoms of each vanilla and steep in a closed-lid container with dark Cruzan Rum. Make sure the container is long enough to hold the beans without crimping, bending, or folding them. After about two weeks of sitting in the rum, the pods will swell and the beans will plump up. Then I simply press the pods into whatever treat I am making and watch the oily, black seeds pour out. Heaven! This is my favorite form of extraction. There is yet another flavor dimension added to working with vanilla this way, as the molasses notes from the dark rum offer an instant compliment to theΒ  beans.

A third way to infuse even more vanilla into your baked creations is to rub the dried beans (do not try this with the rum-soaked vanilla) into some natural cane sugar and let it sit with the sugar for a few weeks. It makes some of the best tasting vanilla sugar. I also add the scraped dried beans directly into my sugar jar. That way when you add the sugar to your creations, it adds yet another layer of vanilla. The best flavors in food are not simply added but are layered!

Walk away from the Imitation Vanilla on the grocery store shelves. Try working with real vanilla beans or at least real vanilla extract. They are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth trying every once in a long while. Just try it! And I promise you will see! Vanilla is anything BUT vanilla!

15 thoughts on “Vanilla Sugar

  1. Have you ever worked with jaggery? I’ve seen it alot in the shelves in Abu Dhabi supermarkets. Seems like its used a lot in India. I wonder if it was used in the past on St. Croix when cane was grown for export.

    1. Yvette, I haven’t worked with Jaggery and had to look it up. It looks intriguing! The closest I have tasted is evaporated cane sugar, which is my go to sweetener. Is jaggery similar in taste to palm sugar? I will have to look for it. Very curious! Thanks for sharing!

      1. I did not to get to taste it, just took a photo of it the supermarket over there. But, I believe it is…just in bulk form. I also saw vanilla ready-made in powder form for baking and in a grater for coffee. I tried the vanilla sugar once in a recipe, but did not really see a difference in taste. I guess home-made is better.

        1. Hey Yvette,
          The Vanilla sugar is just one more flavor layer. It isn’t very overt, but just right off in the background. I toss all my scraped beans into my sugar bowl to give it an extra vanilla scent. I think I just can’t bear to part with the pods since they are a bit costly. lol. I have seen the vanilla powder, but never tried it. I believe they ground up the actual pods to make that. I have also tried the vanilla paste, but didn’t really like its outcome in my baked goods. Nice to hear you are such a foodie! Curiosity in the kitchen always gets rewarded! πŸ™‚

          1. Yes, vanilla IS very expensive. That’s why I don’t venture much with it. But it sure does have a flavor blast. Love me some vanilla bean ice cream! Another curious blend with sugar is cardamom. I saw those a lot in little packets for coffee. Loved it!

          2. Oh, Yvette, you just said the word cardamom!! lol. One of my FAVORITE spices!! I just did a recipe for the Aebleskivers and snuck some in there too. I have heard of it in coffee, but never tried it. It is definitely on my list of things to taste.

          3. Try cardamom in Pineapple-upside down cake. Have done that it gives it a nice twist. I brought back some Arabic-coffee with cardamom in it. I can give you a little if you’d like to try it. Total lover of anything cardamom. They even had cardamom-flavored condensed milk, which – of course – I used in my coffee. πŸ™‚

          4. Yvette, have you ever tried cardamom in butter cookies? I have a recipe I am working on for lavender butter cookies, it is a favorite! But I also plan on making one with cardamom! I also use it in my coconut milk jasmine rice along with some lemongrass! YUM!! πŸ™‚

          5. Oh gosh! That sounds heavenly? Will you share the recipe? Where do you get the lavender from? I love the idea of flowers in cooking. I tried Rose ice-cream and it was quite different. It was an Indian product; they had saffron and cardamom as well.

          6. I’m thinking about it, Yvette! I did a “Rambling” on the Lavender version recently. I also love experimenting with Rose water. You can get the culinary lavender from Whole Foods. Whenever I put it in ice cream, I simply steep it in the milk to draw out most of the flavors. Then add it to the icecream base. I also really enjoy rose and jasmine as flavors. There are SO many ways to enjoy and create good food. I have appreciated this conversation! πŸ™‚

          7. I had to share this with you, Yvette! I was in the grocery store the other day, and I am experimenting with different types of sugar. I was looking for “Palm Sugar”. As I looked at the box closer, it said, “Jaggery”! Needless to say, it WAS bought!! lol. I will let you know where and how I use it! Thanks for the suggestion!!

          8. Super cool! I tagged on you my photo of Jaggery. Check out the brand. Kinda peculiar one, I say. lol! A type of sugar that I came across about a long time ago was Date Sugar. I had found it in a vegan grocer on Biscayne Blvd. in Miami. I needed it for a vegan banana-creme pie recipe and OMG was it the most amazing thing. I’ve never been able to find it anywhere, even while in the land of dates. You might want to google it and see how you can get it. It was amazing flavor.

          9. I saw it! Thanks! I think I will do a Rambling on Sugar. I have run into so many different kinds. Each with its own story. In many ways the history of this little rock is tied to that single cane-derived product. Hmmm…

  2. Cool! I need to experiment with those one day. I remember seeing jasmine flowers in the produce section over there. You’ve inspired me to start experimenting in the kitchen again. πŸ™‚

    1. That makes me smile! That’s why I’m doing this. To encourage us to remember how GOOD the kitchen can feel, and the joy we can get from our own two hands, some heat, time, and a TON of creativity!!! πŸ™‚

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