Vanilla sugar is a favorite cupboard component for those who harbor a sweet tooth. A combination of granulated sugar and vanilla bean, it can add a decadent sweetness to breakfast foods, desserts, and other dulcet dishes. Vanilla sugar can be purchased from gourmet food vendors, or be made with a simple recipe at home.
For a small amount of vanilla sugar, simply slice a single vanilla bean open, scraping out its seeds. Deposit the seeds into an airtight container, then bury them with two cups (380 grams) of granulated sugar. Allow the mixture to sit for at least one week in a cool, dark place; it may be steeped for a longer period of time if desired. Two vanilla beans may be used to produce a stronger flavor. Wrapping the jar in aluminum foil, or steeping for up to three weeks, will also yield a bolder taste.
Once ready, the sugar can be used in place of granulated sugar in nearly any recipe. Some recipes for the sweetened granules call for vanilla extract. While suitable in some recipes, vanilla extract should not be used to flavor sugar used for a topping. Doing so will produce an inferior, and unpleasant, flavor. Larger batches can be made by using accurate comparative ratios if needed.
Use of vanilla sugar is only limited by the imagination. A popular flavoring agent for coffee, the sweetly-scented sugar makes an excellent cookie topping on fresh baked goods. Some vanilla aficionados like to add the confection to their hot cocoa, while others mix it in with their morning oatmeal. Shortbread cookies, popovers, ice cream, French toast, pies, ripe fruits, pastries, scones, puddings, and sweet breads can all be flavored with the food ingredients.
Though unavailable in most American supermarkets, vanilla sugar is readily available in Europe. It can be purchased in many specialty food shops. Dessert supply stores are likely to carry the grainy treat. People who live in remote locations may be able to purchase the ingredient from online gourmet stores for a moderate to expensive price. Traditional vanilla sugar is typically made with Costa Rican sugar.
Also known as Vanillezucker, this sweet crystalline condiment is often used in many European desserts. Some countries famous for using vanilla beans and sugar as sweeteners include Poland, Austria, Denmark, Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, and Germany. If stored out of direct sunlight, in a cool, dry place, the confection will typically last for up to two years.