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For those of you that love it as much as I do, the next statement is a welcomed sight. For those that don’t, please avert your eyes: Christmas is coming! I know it seems a tad bit early, but I am already planning all the wonderful recipes and decor ideas to give you so you can enjoy a simple, festive, and (hopefully) carefree holiday with your loved ones. The first thing I always plan for impending holidays is baking. Christmas baking is unlike any other: so many confections, cookies, and delicacies that are many times tied to family memories. I love how there are certain things we must make each year (even if they don’t always get eaten) because they are just always baked at Christmas. With the baking season on the horizon, I am starting to stock the house with sugar. As unhealthy as that may sound, it takes a lot of sugar to make everything!
This year, I want to incorporate vanilla sugar into some of my baking. Vanilla sugar is a boutique, specialty sugar of sorts. This sugar can be hard to find at a reasonable price in the United States. Luckily for them, Europeans widely use vanilla sugar in their baking and numerous goodies. If you are not used to the idea of vanilla-flavored sugar, I’m convinced you will soon learn to love it! This is wonderful used in place of traditional granulated sugar in baking and can also be used in coffee drinks or sprinkled on Christmas cookies to give them an extra special touch. This year, I also hope to place some in fun containers, tie an antique spoon to the jar, and give as gifts. What a treat!
I hardly call this a recipe as it only takes two ingredients. Unfortunately, vanilla beans can sometimes be hard to find. Many stores will have a few in their spice aisles, but they can be costly. Personally, I have found the best place to purchase them is at Costco; they have beautiful Madagascar vanilla beans around the holidays. You want to look for beans that are soft, not dried out. My own method for testing (in the store) whether vanilla beans are too old is to shake a jar. If you hear the bean clinking around, it is probably old and too dry.
Vanilla sugar is not a necessity but adds an extra flare to your baking. Give that little kick and special touch we all crave at Christmas time!
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-2 vanilla bean(s)
- Place your sugar in an airtight container. Cut the bean lengthwise in half, exposing the thousands of flavorful seeds inside. With the back of a knife, scrape out all the seeds and mix into the sugar.
- Place the scraped bean in the sugar as it will have oils the sugar will absorb. If extra strong vanilla is desired, use two beans.
- Before using the sugar, let it sit for at least two weeks, stirring occasionally. This allows the oils and flavors to distribute.