I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to make my own extract.
I mean, two ingredients and leave it alone for a month, how simple is that?
Here's the recipe, such as it is.
Two vanilla beans, split lengthwise and the center scraped out with a sharp knife, you want the seeds in there, they do add a lot of the vanilla flavour. I also cut my beans in half, cause otherwise they weren't submerged. I bought my beans at World Market, but you can buy them online as well. Just make sure they are fresh and pliable, if they're too dried out, they do not seem to work as well.
1/2 cup Dark Rum, or brandy, cognac or vodka. Any of them. I like the nuances of a mixture of brandy and rum myself. So that's what I did. Well, actually I only had a 1/4 cup of brandy left and it wasn't quite enough so I added 1/4 cup of dark rum as well. And it was good.
Place the beans in a glass jar, pour the rum/brandy over it, and seal. Set the jar in a dark cupboard and shake it once a day or so for a couple of weeks. Then just let it steep in the dark. You can use this after a week or so, but I let mine go a whole month, before I used it the first time.
Label it, trust me it helps.
After using a couple of teaspoons, replace those with some more rum or brandy. And add another vanilla bean every few months, just to keep the goodness going.
I don't strain this when using it, I don't mind if some of the seeds get into my batter or frosting. Just adds character. But if it does bother you, just use a fine strainer to strain out the seeds before using the extract.
And another hint, if you happen to run into a really good deal on vanilla beans, you can split them in half lengthwise, and submerge them in a container of sugar and in a couple of weeks, you have some lovely vanilla sugar.
And just got hit with this thought, whew that was close. This would be an awesome Christmas gift for your fellow foodies. You know who you are.
It's not too early to think of Christmas, really, it isn't. Just ask your grandkids. You could make this in a large jar, then decant it into some pretty little bottles. I think I see a visit to the big city in my future.