Vanilla Bean Around the World

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive about a pound of vanilla beans. I know! I was speechless! That’s a lot of vanilla and if you like to bake as much as I do, it is culinary black gold!

A friend who is working is Madagascar knows about my love affair with the oven and brought them back for me on his last trip home. So I have been doing my best to put a dent in the vanilla bean pile. -Steph McVox

This is the pile after I was done and gave some to Bonnie.

I started plunking vanilla beans into everything! Like bourbon and vodka so I have my own extract:

And I pulverized them into sugar. Thank you Alton Brown for your easy-peasy Vanilla Bean Sugar recipe. I use it on cinnamon toast; my Mom sprinkles it on pie crusts; Liesl sprinkles it on berries; and Bonnie used it on her Truffles Royale.

Then I made Vanilla Pear Liqueur:

Vanilla Pear Vodka
Adapted from Belvedere Vodka

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups vodka
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 3 vanilla beans, cut in half
  • 6-7 ripe pears, washed

In a large glass container, mix the sugar, vodka, brandy and stir. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the washed pears, and then cut into segments length-wise. Remove the core and seeds and place. Place in the glass container with the sugar, vodka and brandy. Add the vanilla beans throughout the mixture. Cover and place in a cool dark area for 4-12 weeks, stirring regularly. (I kept tasting every couple of weeks until I thought the flavours were melded – after 3 months I liked it) Stir and strain the mixture through a colander. Discard the pears and strain the liquid back through a coffee filter into a clean container(s). Taste and add some more vodka if it seems too sweet. Continue to rest for another 2-3 weeks. Some sediment may form and this can either be removed by further straining or shaken to mix before serving. Cheers!

Recently blood Oranges were in season, so I used Julie Van Rosendaal’s recipe for Blood Orange Vanilla Marmalade:

I know that everyone is not lucky enough to get a windfall of vanilla beans, so thanks again and again to Ivana and BJ!


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