What Is Vanilla Sugar?During my momentary panic, a quick Google search showed me that vanilla sugar was actually just a mixture of vanilla and sugar (well, that seems pretty self-explanatory). It turns out that this is an extremely common ingredient in Europe, specifically in countries like Germany, Poland, and Hungary. Vanilla sugar is used in their traditional desserts, mostly in cookies and cakes. However, it can be a lot tougher to find vanilla sugar in the United States or other non-European countries, so this can make things a little more difficult! However, the important piece of note here is that vanilla sugar is not quite just a mixture of vanilla extract with sugar. That would be kind of mushy and gross, right? Vanilla sugar is actually sugar that has been infused with vanilla over a long period of time, so it still retains that nice granular texture that we love in sugar (and need for our perfect baked goods!), but with an added flavor of vanilla for a unique pop!
Where Can I Find Vanilla Sugar?If you're in the United States, you're not entirely out of luck buying pre-packaged vanilla sugar. You may be able to find some at a specialty grocery store, and a few big box stores carry it as well. If you do find it, however, you may be a little concerned when you see the price tag, as vanilla sugar is going to be a good bit pricier than your typical baking sugars. The great news is that you can actually make your own vanilla sugar fairly easily. If you need it today, you may just need to splurge, but if you have a little time, then it is actually fairly easy to make at home. How, you ask? Let us see . . .
Making Your Own Vanilla SugarAs mentioned above, making your own vanilla sugar is quite a simple process. The hardest part about it is that it simply takes time for the vanilla to infuse into the sugar. To start, you will need a vanilla bean and about 2 cups of sugar (feel free to up that proportionally to whatever quantity you need). Caster or superfine sugar should work best, and if you are not familiar with it, then feel free to read more about it here, but any sugar will do!
- Put all of your sugar into a glass or plastic air-tight jar.
- Slice open the vanilla bean carefully so that the seeds are facing up.
- Use the back of your knife to scoop out the tiny black vanilla beans (this is where the magic happens!).
- Place all of the vanilla bean seeds and the open vanilla bean into the jar with the sugar.
- Take a hint from The Beatles (or Ferris Bueller) and shake it up! Shake your sugar and the vanilla beans until everything is evenly dispersed throughout the jar. This will allow for the best infusion of odors and flavors from the beans.
- Store for anywhere between a week and a month before using. Nothing bad will happen if you use it earlier, of course, it will just have less time to infuse the vanilla into the sugar, so you will not get quite as heavy of a vanilla flavor in your dishes. (Don’t forget to sift out the vanilla beans prior to use!)