Friday, April 20, 2012

Vanilla Sugar

This has been such an overwhelming seven days. I had a doctor's appointment to discuss my recently developed carpal tunnel syndrome, baked a bunch of treats for my partner's birthday, had a whirlwind weekend in Philly/NYC, got a sinus infection, and then worked several twelve hour days trying to finish up recipe development. The sinus infection set me back a bit because I couldn't taste, and I still am having trouble hearing out of one of my ears.
The bakery has inspections today, and pending that we pass, I will start in the new space on Monday! While it's all very exciting, I fully expect to work 50 plus hours next week trying to wrap things up before May. We need to place food orders, price cost everything, bake everything, train my assistant, and I still have to finish up all the recipes. Whew!
Aside from lavender, there is one other smell that instantly soothes my nerves. And that's fresh vanilla beans. However, I have this terrible habit of splurging on vanilla beans, and then "saving" them for something special. But they end up sitting around for far too long because I don't want to waste them on anything that might not be perfect. I was creating a package for a Vegan Secret Swap I participate in and decided to include a jar of homemade vanilla sugar. It's a great use for vanilla beans (especially ones that have toughened a bit), and helps you savor them for infinitely longer.

leaves and flours vegan vanilla sugar

If you are going to give someone a jar of vanilla sugar, I highly recommend adding the seeds from a split vanilla bean to 1/3-1/2 cup raw sugar. The flecks of the beans make it look incredibly elegant. If you are into being a bit more resourceful, there is another option. After you scrape a vanilla bean pod for some delicious ice cream or caramel, rather than throw away the pod store it in a small jar of sugar. The flavor will still seep into the sugar. The longer you let the vanilla sugar sit, the stronger the flavor will be! It's generally best to wait at least a few days before using your sugar.

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