It's less than a week until Thanksgiving, which means that Christmas is coming up fast. If you're at a loss when it comes to gifts this year, then why not consider giving something edible. Trust me, I don't know a single person who would turn down a tasty treat they didn't have to make themselves. If I'm honest, gifts like these are always my favorites and sometimes it doesn't seem like Christmas without them. My aunt always brings me a huge plate of cookies when she comes to visit, but since I've missed coming home for the holidays the past few years I've missed out on the cookies too. I'm pretty sure my little brother decided to eat my share, because that is what little brothers do.
I've been giving home made treats for gifts as long as I can remember. It's such a long standing tradition that on the odd occasion I haven't been able to send them, I get a few phone calls wondering what happened. Last year my husband was in the hospital during the holidays which left me little time for baking. I received no fewer than a dozen phone calls, not asking how my husband was doing, but asking what happened to the cookies I normally send. I'll be honest, it was nice to know they were missed.
While I normally send cookies to the people on my list I've decided to switch things up a bit this year. I made a huge batch of vanilla sugar that I'll be including in what I've dubbed my Christmas cookie care package. It's something that is incredibly easy to make and adds a ton of flavor to otherwise simple foods. I'm partial to sprinkling it on toast or in my coffee, but it's a great addition to fresh strawberries as well as crème brûlée. It's the kind of gift that has limitless possibilities.
makes 4 quarter pint jars
- Open the vanilla bean pods with a knife and scrape the insides into a large container filled with sugar. Add the vanilla bean pods to the sugar, close the container, then shake until the vanilla bean seeds are well distributed.
- Let the container sit for 2 - 3 weeks allowing the sugar to infuse with the vanilla. Make sure to give your jar a good shake every few days so the vanilla is evenly dispersed.
- After several weeks you can divide your large container of sugar into smaller jars to give as gifts.
I use a large canning jar to make my vanilla sugar so there is plenty of room to mix the vanilla pod scrapings. When I'm ready to give them as gifts I separate them into quarter pint jars (4oz) with shaker lids so the sugar can be easily used. You can purchase a 4 pack of these jars on Amazon for under $10, just use the link I've included above.
Don't throw away your vanilla bean pods. You can either cut them up and put it in the smaller jars so they continue to infuse or start a new batch of vanilla sugar.
If you need a last minute gift, but waited too long to start this project, don't worry about the 2-3 week wait time. Put a "use after" date on your jar so your recipient will know when their vanilla sugar will be ready to use.