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Vanilla bean and cardamom

McCormick [via], the spice manufacturer, made a top ten list of trendy flavor pairings for 2008. Among them, vanilla bean and cardamom:

…if predictions are correct, look for all these flavor pairings to crop up even more in unexpected dishes…

  • Vanilla Bean and Cardamom: A flavor match made in heaven taps into America‚Äôs growing passion for indulgent, yet approachable luxury.

Go read the rest.

Vanilla sugar is super simple, just add table sugar to vanilla beans and wait a few weeks. An occasional shake helps expose all the sugar crystals to vanilla goodness. Vanilla speckled sugar makes a great compliment to a homemade vanilla extract gift box — and it can be made from “waste” vanilla beans.

Here are three vanilla sugar recipes:

  1. I always put sugar in empty vanilla bean packaging. There’s a bunch of great vanilla flavor stuck to the bag — especially if the beans were vacuum packed. Shown here on the left.
  2. Beans already used to make extract still have plenty of flavor to make vanilla sugar. Dry post-extract beans for a few days, then cover them with sugar in a zip-top bag. Shown here on the right.
  3. You can also use whole or chopped new vanilla beans, but method 1 and 2 are more economical.

Remove the beans from the sugar before using. I find the best way is to put it through a colander and shake.