Vanilla Sugar - My secret baking ingredient
When I made the move from Europe the the United States it came with many changes and adjustments along the way. I grew up in a home where every meal was home cooked and the majority of foods and ingredients where either home grown or locally grown. Very little food items were sourced from supermarkets.
Where access to whole foods and ingredients was very easy at my previous home in Germany, I found it tough to source the same quality food and ingredients outside of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Lots of Hamburger and Tuna Helper were in our future!
Eventually, by learning the local grocery landscape, we were able to find fresh foods and ingredients for our meals. However, some things we would not be able to find and would either need to learn making ourselves or order online at a premium price.
What is vanilla sugar
Vanilla, especially real organic Bourbon Vanilla, is grown in Madagaskar and comes to the rest of the world as an imported good. It adds an amazingly sweet and buttery flavor to many goods including chocolate, and a wide variety of desserts.
Though vanilla sugar can be found at places like World Market and online European food markets, the prices do not allow to source this precious ingredient often. It's typically sold by companies like Dr. Oetker in 10g packages at fairly high prices.
Uses of Vanilla Sugar
Vanilla sugar, much like vanilla extract, is used to flavor baked goods, ice cream, and more. The use of extract was completely foreign to me, and in my 20 years of living away from my home country I have never used it for any of my baking or anything else.
I use vanilla sugar for all my European recipes, as a substitute for vanilla extract when using an American recipe and sometimes as a substitute for regular sugar.
It's also amazing as a sweetener for coffee, teas, and more!
Making Vanilla Sugar
But why buy expensive pre-packed, when it is so easy to make yourself? It is as simple as infusing sugar with vanilla beans and storing the same in an airtight container.
However, the best way and quality is achieved by using vanilla bean shavings or powder (this can be done with a food processor) and mixing it with raw sugar. One vanilla bean per 6 cups of sugar is sufficient and will result in an amazing product for your home use.
Not only will vanilla sugar up your dessert and baking game alltogether, it also makes a great give-away and homemade present for special occassions.
When making vanilla sugar, I highly recommend using real Madagaskar Bourbon Vanilla to achieve the best quality and taste.