Vanilla sugar is one of the simplest baking gems to make and is something every vanilla-loving chef has in their kitchen. You can bake with vanilla sugar, use it as sugar dust over cakes and cookies or use it to boost the flavour of savoury dishes, cocktail drinks and smoothies.
The best thing about making your own vanilla sugar is you can re-use whole vanilla beans that you’ve used in other dishes so nothing goes to waste. Simply add spent vanilla beans to your sugar for a vanilla-infused treat and sweeten your life.
What is vanilla sugar?
Vanilla sugar is simply store-bought granulated sugar infused with the enchanting essence of vanilla. You can either use fresh whole vanilla beans, ones you’ve used in other recipes and dried or you can use the decadent seeds scraped from the pods.
The only added ingredient for vanilla sugar is patience. You should wait at least 2 to 3 weeks for the delicate taste and aroma of the vanilla to infuse in the sugar completely. If you need vanilla sugar in a hurry, you can swop whole vanilla beans for pure vanilla extract.
Which vanilla beans are best for vanilla-infused sugar?
The best whole vanilla beans for vanilla sugar are Grade B beans, otherwise known as extract vanilla beans. You can use Grade A gourmet variety but they’re more expensive and it’s a bit of a waste because they’re not as concentrated as extract beans. Save your gourmet beans for delicious homemade vanilla ice-cream and cakes, then re-use them to make homemade vanilla sugar.
Extract vanilla beans have a stronger taste and aroma profile than gourmet beans because they contain less moisture and are drier. This means they release their delightful aroma and flavour more readily than gourmet beans. The best extract vanilla beans come from the tropical islands of Papua New Guinea and Madagascar as well as Mexico, India, Uganda and Indonesia.
What is vanilla sugar used for?
Vanilla sugar is used as a baking sugar or a finishing sugar. It’s wonderful as sugar dust sprinkled over cakes, cookies and cupcakes. There really is no limit to how and when you use vanilla sugar. Any time you need to pack an aromatic boost to sweet or savoury recipes, you can rely on vanilla sugar to do the job.
The ratio of vanilla to sugar to make homemade vanilla sugar is:
- scrapings of 1 vanilla bean to 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean, opened and seeds loosened to 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract to 1 cup granulated sugar
Push the whole vanilla beans down into the sugar so they are covered. Put the vanilla sugar in an airtight container and store it in a cupboard or pantry out of direct sunlight. Shake the jar of vanilla sugar every few days to evenly disperse the natural flavours and use to sweeten your life whenever you like.
Homemade vanilla sugar also makes a wonderful gift for friends and family. Save your spent beans and create a jar of joy for someone you know who loves vanilla as much as you do.