It's so easy to make DIY vanilla extract
If you've been following my newsletter for a while, you know that I'm a big fan of naturally sweetened treats and desserts. If you are new to my world, welcome! (And get ready for lots of chocolate recipes.) I almost always ditch flour, dairy products, and refined sugars in my recipes in favor of slow-digesting and more nutritious nuts, seeds, and less processed sweeteners like maple syrup or dates.
In addition to those swaps, today I wanted to share a key ingredient that makes whole foods-based sweets taste amazing: high quality vanilla extract! Vanilla adds a woodsy, caramely depth to desserts and uniquely enhances the flavor of chocolate. Unfortunately, many grocery store varieties use synthetic vanillin or additives like corn syrup (even ones labeled "pure vanilla extract"). If you want to get top notch flavor from your sweets, make sure to get high quality vanilla extract from a spice store OR take 3 seconds to make your own!
Basically you take vanilla beans and cover them in high-proof alcohol and...wait. Easy! See the recipe link at the end of the post for more details and options. Homemade vanilla extract also has the benefit of being way more affordable than store-bought. I made mine with leftover vodka and vanilla beans I found in my spice cabinet (aka free) but even purchasing ingredients from scratch makes a product that's 1/2 the price of what you'd pay at the grocery store (and much better tasting).
A bonus reason I'm including this recipe now? DIY Vanilla Extract is an easy, affordable, and elegant homemade Christmas gift! But since it takes 6-8 weeks to mature, I wanted to send the recipe now, so your batch will be ready in time for holiday baking or gifting. Consider it an early Xmas gift from me.
Curious for uses for your Vanilla Extract? Here are ideas of what you can add it to when it's ready.
- pretty much any chocolate recipe like Chocolate Avocado Pudding
- Salted Caramel Apple Dip made from dates
- my tummy soothing Vanilla Apple Kuzu Pudding, a favorite from my digestion class
- Cookie Dough Energy Bites--vanilla extract is the secret to how I get hemp and cashews to taste just like cookie dough!