One of the items I miss the most is pure vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste, last summer I was lucky enough to find two bottles of alcohol free vanilla bean paste when I went to the US but sadly the bottles are now nearly empty. Vanilla scented sugar has always been a favorite of mine and something I always have in had, every time we visit Morocco I make sure to buy a few packs of fresh vanilla. A small amount goes a long way, just 1 vanilla bean can make a jar of sugar extra special. I don't only use these sugars for baking but also in my drinks such as coffee and chamomile tea. The amazing thing about Vanilla beans is that they almost never loose their fragrance, meaning they can be reused once you run low on sugar. When the jars start looking low, I just simply add more sugar and shake them a bit to mix with the leftover sugar that's already been sitting for weeks.
Vanilla bean extract/paste
4 vanilla beans
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Directions, heat the water and sugar under low heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Slit the Vanilla beans and scrape the pulpy seeds (caviar) into the sugar syrup, adding the vanilla bean as well. Cook over low heat for an extra 10 minutes (or until the syrup reduces just a tiny bit), remove from the heat and allow it to come down to room temperature. Pour the mixture into a jar and cover, leave the jar out for at least two days before placing it in the refrigerator... Allow the beans to flavor the syrup for 2 weeks before using.
Vanilla scented sugar
4 cups sugar
2 large vanilla beans cut in half and slightly split
pour half the sugar into a large jar, place half of the vanilla bean inside and pour in the remainder of the sugar. Tuck the other half of the vanilla bean into the sugar. Cover and allow it to sit for approximately one week, the longer it sits the more fragrant it becomes.
Vanilla scented sugar cubes
4 cups vanilla cubes
2 vanilla beans
Directions place the sugar cubes into a large jar, cut the vanilla beans in half and tuck them between the cubes. Allow them to sit for over two weeks before using.