Price note: This can be expensive (which defeats the point of handmade gifts) if you try and buy vanilla beans at your local store. No store near me even sells them so I didn’t have this option anyway but for those who do- do NOT buy at a local store unless you just have money to waste. At the time of this post, Williams Sonoma sells 2 Madagascar vanilla bean pods for $8.50 ($4.25 PER POD…insanity). I purchased mine through ebay retailer Vanilla Beans USA and got 90 pods for $20 (can you say $.22 PER POD… yes!!). They are Grade B (which means visual blemishes which aren’t important for what I’m doing) and perfect. They have smaller quantities as well so just do the math and figure out how many you need or just store extras in a cool, dark place as they are an “infinity” food (they don’t go bad just eventually lose some of their potency after several years of storage).
Another super simple gift that only requires 2 ingredients. Make it at least two weeks ahead if you can. If not, a shortcut version is also given below.
Homemade Vanilla Sugar
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean pods
Standard directions: Drop the vanilla pod in a glass container. Cover with sugar. If you want, you can split the lower half of the pod to release some of the vanilla beans. Shake daily for two weeks before using
I forgot a gift fast fix directions: Place vanilla pod and sugar in food processor. Blend until powdered. This makes a fine sugar similar to confectioner’s sugar that is best used for flavoring coffees or dusting baked goods.