Vanilla beans are one of those luxury baking items home cooks don’t use enough, especially in ways as simple as this. Vanilla sugar is simply sugar that has taken a nice, cozy nap with a vanilla bean or two. You can use fresh vanilla beans, or you can use vanilla beans that you’ve already used in another recipe.
For instance, instead of throwing out whole vanilla beans you’ve sliced in half and used to make vanilla bean ice cream, simply wash the vanilla beans, let them dry on a paper towel on your counter, and then put them straight into your sugar jar. Even after they’ve been used and washed, vanilla beans still have a strong fragrance that perfumes granulated sugar.
If you have fresh, unused vanilla beans, you can put them whole (or cut in half) into your sugar canister. I actually use vanilla beans in both my regular sugar jar and in the sugar bowl we use for our morning coffee. The vanilla sugar has a bit more depth than plain white sugar, and it makes my morning cup of joe even more enjoyable.
I use vanilla sugar as a substitute for regular sugar in pretty much any recipe that calls for it. The vanilla-laced sugar adds some extra umph to baked goods, and the vanilla fragrance isn’t noticeable in savory recipes, especially since a small quantity of sugar is usually all that’s called for.
Where can you purchase vanilla beans that won’t break the bank? Costco and Sam’s Club are great places to look for bulk vanilla beans. (Think: You could even make your vanilla extract!) And Amazon has a great selection as well. A half-pound bag (54 beans) is only $19! That’s an incredible deal that’s sure to beat your supermarket’s prices. And, of course, vanilla beans have myriad uses, so the fun doesn’t stop with plain old vanilla sugar—you can even make my Hazelnut Crescent Cookies with Vanilla Bean Sugar!
No matter what you make, homemade vanilla sugar is sure to make every day feel like a luxurious one.