Every year around about September, I tell myself I’m going to make a bunch of vanilla extract and get it ready for Christmas cookie baking. But the alcohol laws in Pennsylvania are kind of a pain and to make an extra trip to a store I don’t usually go to in order to get a quart of vodka just never happens. Another year goes by and I’m stuck buying tiny and expensive bottles of pure vanilla extract for baking.
Thankfully, I finally remembered that wonderful, easy to make and best of all, inexpensive to make thing known as vanilla sugar.
Vanilla Extract / Vanilla Sugar: What’s the Difference?
In order to make vanilla extract, you need a couple vanilla beans, a quart of vodka, rum, or bourbon, and about 6 weeks of curing time. In terms of materials and time, the cost is kind of high.
In order to make vanilla sugar, you need a couple vanilla beans, two cups of plain ol’ sugar, and about two weeks. That means the materials and time cost quite a bit less.
Best part? You can use them interchangeably in baking recipes.
1.5 tsp of vanilla sugar can be substituted for 1 tsp vanilla extract.
How to Make Vanilla Sugar
This is so crazy easy. You’ll need:
1-2 vanilla beans (I prefer Madagascar vanilla)
2 cups white sugar
And here’s what you do:
1) With a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean(s) lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the paste out and add it to a clean quart-sized mason jar. Cut the empty pod(s) in half.
2) Add the sugar.
3) Tighten the lid on the jar and shake well.
4) Store the jar for 2-3 weeks, shaking occasionally.
5) Use and enjoy!
What Can You Use Vanilla Sugar for?
- As mentioned above, this can be a tasty and inexpensive alternative to vanilla extract in baking.
- Sweeten/flavor coffee or black tea
- Substitute for some or all of sugar quantity in baking recipes
- Use as decorating sugar on top of cookies, cupcakes, pies and tarts.
Vanilla Sugar: A Great DIY Christmas Gift
I love the idea of homemade Christmas gifts, but I rarely budget enough time to make them, and to be honest, sometimes getting all the supplies together makes these homemade gifts pretty expensive.
But vanilla sugar is a great DIY gift that is relatively inexpensive and quick to make and turnaround as a gift. Add to it a nice little recipe they can use that sugar with, and my oh my, what a cozy present for someone to receive.
Tapping into my Austrian heritage, I love using vanilla sugar for Vanillekipferl – really tasty crescent shaped cookies that actually get better a few days after they’re baked. So why not gift the vanilla sugar with a recipe? Feel free to use this one (which should be printed out with 7×5 inch dimensions):
Are you planning on making vanilla sugar? Have you made it before? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear how you’ve used it!