Friday, December 17, 2010

#266 Concentrated Vanilla Sugar

Several recipes for cakes and other desserts require vanilla sugar. I have already made one of the two vanilla sugars in the book and this is the second. The best thing about this one is that not only is it concentrated, but it is also instant.

Whenever you are baking do try to use real vanilla pods, or at the very least the Madagascan vanilla extract. Don’t ever use the essence. If you do, I’ll come over to your house and smack your arse. Although Madagascar is the main producer of vanilla these days, it is actually a Mexican plant; an orchid in fact. Mexico had the monopoly on vanilla production because, although it is easy to grow the plants, fertilization of the flowers was only possible in Mexico itself. This is due to the symbiotic relationship between the vanilla plant and its pollinator; the Melipona bees of the area. It wasn’t until a 12 year-old slave discovered a way of artificially pollinating the flowers with a bamboo stick could vanilla farming leave Mexico. I wonder if the lad got a handsome reward. I doubt it….

Anyway, I have prattled on enough….

To make this vanilla sugar, cut two vanilla pods into one centimetre bits and put them into a blender along with four ounces of caster sugar. Whiz the mixture so that you get a grey-looking powder. Cut your vanilla sugar with eight ounces of caster sugar and keep it in an air-tight container. You’ll probably need to cut it further when you come to use it for recipes – this all depends on how much vanilla flavour you like. FYI it was thought of as an aphrodisiac, so don’t go crazy, unless you want your dinner party to turn into a scene from Eyes Wide Shut.

#266 Concentrated Vanilla Sugar. It’s hard to give this a mark really as it’s an ingredient rather than an actual food. We shall see when I come to use it in future recipes...

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