I've been going through my plethora supply of vanilla beans (great deal through Azure Standard), in order to make Christmas gifts. After pinning multiple felt & sewing projects on Pinterest, reality set in, "This is not the time to start something new. Do what you know & love."
I know & love food. The feel of my chef knife as I poke & slice through bean after bean, then scrape, scrape, scrape. Food gifts do it for me. Giving that gift of knowing what works to someone else is sharing the love. Vanilla salt is gift. When you eat a chocolate chip cookie, do you sprinkle salt on top before baking it? If not, I implore you to begin. Better yet, make your own vanilla salt & sprinkle that on top.
After biting in a just from the oven chocolate chip cookie with a minute frosting of salt, you will forever be converted & find the chocolate pops in your mouth. This year, I'm giving gifts of the best chocolate chip cookie dough (seriously it's the best, it even won the Chocolate Chip Cookie Olympics) with a small jar of homemade vanilla salt. It's so simple, you'll wonder why you haven't taken to it before now.
What you need:
- vanilla beans
- sea salt (if you want fleur de sel--go ahead, but not necessary)
- chef knife
- cutting board
- mortar & pestle
For every vanilla bean, you will want about 4 Tb of sea salt (that's 1/4 cup). Cut both ends off of the vanilla bean & then with the point of the knife, slice right down the middle until the bean is split in two. Open up the bean as much as possible so it's similar to a butterflied bean & take the edge of the knife to scrape the bean pods out. Repeat to both sides.
Either using a mortar & pestle, or putting the salt on the cutting board with the bean, you will want to combine until the majority of the bean pods are evenly distributed. It looks similar to sand.
Save the beans & put in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar. Package up the vanilla salt.