Vanilkový Cukor – Homemade Vanilla Sugar
As I made Pauline’s vanilla sugar recipe today, my husband lay rocking back and forth on the hammock in the backyard, eyes closed, listening to music strumming through the headphones, blissfully unaware that a strange man had run up and stood over him, panting and sweating profusely.
Nick’s eyes fluttered open, his startled eyes locking with those of a nervous young man of Middle Eastern descent, and he dropped his iPod to the ground in surprise.
“What are you doing here?”, Nick demanded.
The young man bent over and picked up the fallen iPod, reconnected it to the cord dangling from Nick’s ears, and handed it back to him, somewhat politely.
“I’m looking for my parents,” the stranger said in a heavy Arabic accent, as his eyes darted nervously about the yard.
“In our backyard?!” Nick asked incredulously. ”Where did come you from?”
“I’m from Iceland“, the young man answered. “Do you know where that is?”
He then gestured to two nearby lawn chairs, and asked Nick if he would like to join him there. ”And could I have a glass of Cognac?” he asked.
Nick wasn’t sure if the two were understanding one another correctly.
“I think you’d better leave,” my husband said. “Now.”
Nick shooed the stranger out of the yard and called the police as I poured the vanilla sugar into the jar and decided it best to move on to mixing drinks. Our Icelandic Arabian was located a little while later in someone else’s backyard where a similarly bizarre conversation also took place. Off Monsieur Cognac was whisked, back to the mental hospital where he had escaped from earlier in the day, the police reported.
Nick and I later sat down with our drinks and pieces of cake dusted with our superior vanilla sugar, contemplated what could have been, and considered ourselves lucky that the mentally ill stranger in our yard apparently wanted nothing more than to have a seat and a shot of fine French brandy.
Many of Pauline’s recipes call for vanilla sugar, usually sprinkled on top of the cakes, crepes and other Central European desserts. Vanilla sugar is fairly uncommon in the US, but you can find it in some supermarkets (at least in Canada) in small yellow packets made by the 120 year old family owned German company, Dr. Oetker, though it is made with the vastly inferior imitation vanilla flavor, vanillin.
Pure, home made vanilla sugar is less expensive, more fragrant than store bought, and imparts a much richer flavor to desserts. When Pauline baked, vanilla sugar was made from scratch and kept on the shelf in her kitchen, ready to be sprinkled on fruits, added to coffee, whipped cream, milkshakes or yogurt and of course, used for baking in desserts. Here is Pauline’s recipe for making your own superior vanilla sugar; generally, only one tablespoon is all you need to use in a recipe.
Fill a glass jar with icing sugar (or superfine sugar) and 2 pods of vanilla pods, cut up. Seal the jar and shake it to spread the pods through out the sugar evenly. You can keep the jar out on the counter with the lid on, and sift the sugar on your desserts as needed. When the jar begins to run low, simply fill it again with more sugar, as the vanilla pods will last a while. When the scent of vanilla begins to fade, simply add another cut up pod.