Since I had an excuse to buy vanilla beans to make vanilla creme anglais, I have developed a bit of an infatuation with vanilla. I’m more of a savoury person than sweet, so I’ll hold off changing my blog to ‘vanilla fields’ for now, but it’s close… And believe it or not, the cheapest place I’ve found to get whole vanilla beans is at our homebrew shop. So the experimenting begins…
I started last night with vanilla syrup – you know that stuff you buy at Starbucks for $10! Yeah, it’s sugar and water with a bit of flavour. Most recipes called for vanilla extract rather than whole beans but I thought I’d try using beans for the visual effect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay emulsified but you do get pretty black specks in your latte. My french cooking teacher would probably be appalled and you could opt to strain them out, if you really so desired, but I like them.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and the seeds scraped
Place all three ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Let cool. You can bottle it right away or let it sit overnight. If you do strain out the seeds though, give it at least a day or longer to let them infuse. It wasn’t very vanilla-y last night but today it’s much better already.
Now, what to do with those leftover, beautiful, flavourful beans!? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Another trick from my french cooking instructor is 40 used vanilla beans to 1 litre of vodka makes the purest vanilla extract. I don’t know how many of you would actually go through 40 beans or need a whole litre of extract but it’s something you just add pods to each time you use them. I am starting with only 375ml and will aim for about 15 pods.
A tea latte, for anyone who still hasn’t had one – half steeped tea (usually earl grey), half steamed milk, 1 oz. vanilla syrup.