Gourmet, Foodie-Loving Projects
One of my favorite things to share with you guys, which I don't write about often enough, is how to make gourmet quality food products at home. You know, the posh foodie ingredients usually sold in specialty stores or small sections of the grocery store. They usually have longer, descriptive names and a hefty price tag.
Don't get me wrong. Sometimes they're worth it, like in the case of fleur de sel (a French sea salt translated as "flower of salt"). I love to finish my perfectly cooked cast-iron steaks or roasted chicken with finishing salt and it doesn't take more than a pinch or two for lots of flavor.
Other times, though...it's hard to swallow the $70 per oz cost for products like saffron or hundreds of dollars an ounce for fresh truffles (mushrooms). Those food products are ridiculously expensive because they're highly sought after and not mass marketable, so I understand the markup.
How to Please Your Adventurous Tastes Without Going Broke
For common ingredients, though, it's more economical to put on your I'm-a-DIY-badass hat and craft away. Flavored sugars and salts are a simple way to jazz up everyday foods, but you'll end up paying $15-20 per jar at specialty stores or online. If you're not the crafty type, that's probably acceptable for a foodie splurge.
But for everyone else (most of my readers), I bet you're itching to replicate it at home. Especially if you're like me and love making holiday gifts. Your foodie friends will love you!
Note: If you're in the market for a flavored salt as well as sugar, definitely try my basil salt at some point. It's quick & easy + makes a wonderful DIY gift. :)
DIY Flavored Sugar
When I made homemade bourbon vanilla extract back in September, I purposely saved one of my beans to make vanilla sugar. I don't use sugar often in my home, mostly because I rarely bake or cook sweet things. I do this purposefully. If I made sweets, I'd eat them all myself! Sounds logical, right?
However, the holidays are quickly approaching and that's one time of the year I usually indulge in sweets moderately (or not), so it'll be handy to have this vanilla bean sugar around for my baking experiments and foodie gifts.
And even better, you can use whatever sugar suits your fancy! That includes unrefined sugar and sugar-free options, too!
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How to Make Vanilla SugarUsing fresh or dried vanilla beans, you can make gourmet quality vanilla bean sugar at home that's a perfect holiday gift for the foodie in your life and a tasty substitution for regular sugar in an array of recipes.
Yield: 2 cups of vanilla bean sugar
2 cups of granulated sugar (any type you like, organic preferably, see suggestions below)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out or left intact (order beans here)
coconut sugar, dark muscovado sugar, dark brown sugar, sucanat, rapadura, turbinado, vegan & vegetarian sugar
Glass Container suggestions (for gifts)
4 oz mason jar, 4.5 oz contemporary spice jar, 5 oz Italian canning jar, 8 oz oval-shaped canning jar, 8 oz swing top flask bottle, 16 oz Italian square hermetic jar
Split a vanilla bean lengthwise, cutting almost through to the other side, but not completely. Spread open the pod and either scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife or leave it whole. If you remove the seeds, you can mix them into the sugar with the vanilla pod or save them for another recipe.
Completely immerse the vanilla bean in the sugar and seal in an airtight container. Stick in a cool, dark spot for a minimum of two weeks. I usually let mine sit for three or more. You can keep the bean in the sugar as you use it and refill with new sugar, or remove it to a new batch of sugar to flavor it until the bean is spent.
Notes & Tips
- Alternately, if you've been soaking beans for homemade vanilla extract for six months or more, you can remove one of the beans, let it dry completely and then use the dried pod. It will probably take a bit longer to get the vanilla flavor this way since much of it has been used in the extract.
- Unless you're only making one or small batches of sugar, I definitely recommend buying your vanilla beans in bulk online. Grocery, health, and specialty stores usually sell a single vanilla bean for $5-8 dollars. That's SO overpriced. They're much more affordable online. If you keep them properly sealed, the beans will last awhile and if you don't think you'll go through them fast enough, just make vanilla extract. That'll last for years!
And now that you know how to make it, here are a few ideas to get you started using your homemade vanilla sugar...
Ten Ways To Use Vanilla Bean Sugar
- Stir it into your coffee, tea, lattes, or hot cocoa.
- Add it to homemade vanilla ice cream.
- Use it to decorate holiday cookies.
- Sprinkle it on top of cupcakes or muffins.
- Use it as a base for homemade sugar scrubs (like coffee and lemon).
- Bake a rustic fruit tart.
- Measure in a pinch or two to sweeten a dessert smoothie.
- Package it in cute jars or containers for homemade holiday gifts.
- Blitz the sugar finely to make powdered sugar and use it for a vanilla glaze.
- Use it to macerate fruits for recipes like strawberry shortcake & lemon curd parfaits.
I'd like to hear from YOU!
What's your favorite way to use flavored sugars in recipes?
P.S. Want more DIY recipes? Try these:
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