Vanilla Powder and ICYMI: Top 8 Recipes of 2023

vanilla bean powder in jar and on spoon
It’s kind of like a variety pack here today!   First up, how to make your own homemade Vanilla Powder and then second, I’m recapping the top 8 Bake Dept recipes of 2023, ICYMI.

Why eight?  Heh, no reason. I just like the number eight.

But first, Vanilla Powder.

What is Vanilla Powder?  It’s pretty much the easiest and one of the most flavorful things you can make.  It’s merely dried vanilla bean pods.

Yes, vanilla beans are very expensive.  I don’t call for them much in my recipes because they are so expensive.  I rarely use them, to be honest.

If it’s a recipe where vanilla is the key, featured flavor, yes, I will crack out a pod and gleefully use it.

If it’s not though, or vanilla plays a subtle role, or other flavors preempt that swanky pod, I stick with vanilla extract.

dried vanilla bean pods
Given they’re so expensive, I’ve always tried to find ways to make sure none of the pod experience goes to waste.  But now, zero waste!  Woo hoo!

Typically I pop the scraped pods into jars of sugar to make vanilla sugar.  What do I use the sugar for?  Heh, I haven’t yet.  I have offered it to Mike for his coffee.

Since I haven’t found a use for the sugar just yet, what did I do?  I yanked out all the pods that were jammed in that jar.

There weren’t many, again, as I don’t use them often, but now that I know about Vanilla Powder, that may change.

After dusting them off and as I was in no rush, I set them out on the counter to dry out utterly and completely.  Totally crispy, snap-to-bits dried out which is the most important step.

In my case?  It was surely well over a week and a half, probably two weeks; I didn’t note, apologies.  It wasn’t intentional, I just couldn’t scrape (ah, vanilla bean pod pun) out the mere seconds to make this for some reason.

I understand you can also dry them out in the oven and while I haven’t tried that, I’ll include suggestions below.

So really, all you do is grind up the bean pods into a powder.  Yeah.  Palm to forehead, that easy.

vanilla bean pods after the spice grinder
Just be sure your pods are completely, thoroughly, totally, absolutely crisp dry otherwise any moisture left will cause clumping.

I used a spice grinder* which, heh, a few weeks prior, cleaning out and tidying up the pantry, I almost tossed as I hadn’t used it in eons.  Now, it has a place of honor.

You can try a food processor* or better, a mini prep* or possibly a blender.*  Or, perhaps a mortar and pestle.*  Fastest and easiest, for me anyway, was the spice grinder.

Store the powder in an airtight container* and it keeps for at least a year.

vanilla bean powder in little jar and on spoon
Now wait, Becky, what’s the point here?, you’re asking. What do you even use Vanilla Powder for?

While I have yet to try it, haha oops, I definitely have many many plans.  You can sub Vanilla Powder 1:1 for vanilla extract.  It also works in high temp baking situations where extract would get beat up.  Or, sprinkle atop as a finishing flourish, or mix into coffee or hot chocolate.

Too, it’s great for, again, vanilla forward baked goods and also if you want to avoid the alcohol or extra liquid from an extract.

I will definitely keep you posted!

vanilla bean powder
Now for part two, the ICYMI, the top 8 recipes of 2023 on The Bake Dept!  I regularly have moments of “ooohhh yeahhh, I forgot about that, how smashing it is…” so this is me friendly reminding us both!

Mmmk, coming in at number eight, Buttermilk Panna Cotta.  Oh wow.  Right?!  If you haven't tried this yet, it's a must.  It's so easy and yet supremely impressive!

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Just in time for citrus season again, we've got number seven, that delicious Citrus Yogurt Cake!  Yum.  Make it with grapefruit, lemon, orange....whatever you like and it'll be stellar.
Citrus Yogurt Cake
Oh, yes, at number six:  White Lily Buttermilk Biscuits.  Whoo, so fluffy.  Yes, White Lily self-rising flour* can be tricky to locate but in the post, I share how you can make your own.
White Lily buttermilk biscuits
Ahhh yum, number five, Black Cocoa Ice Cream!  Wow, is this a winner.  A rich chocolate ice cream that tastes like Oreo cookies.  Yes.

Black Cocoa Ice Cream
Number four?  Oooh, nice, Shortbread!  Eating Shortbread in Scotland was a real eye-opener and this recipe is *mwah* rockin'.

Oh dear me.  Number three on my ICYMI top 8 recipes of 2023?  Now I need these, badly....The best Cinnamon Rolls.  Ever.  Ever.  ....ever

Cinnamon Rolls
Back around to citrus season, number two comes in at Meyer Lemon Curd!  Thankfully my mom just sent me another box of Meyer Lemons too!

Meyer Lemon Curd
And drumroll....the number one The Bake Dept recipe of 2023?  Aunt Ruth's Cheese Bread.  Rightfully, deservedly so.  It's a mind-blower.  And such a tribute to an incredible person.

Aunt Ruth's Cheese Bread
So there we have it!  Did your favorite of the year make the list?  If not, let me know what yours was!

It's a banner recipe day with both the ICYMI Top 8 Recipes of 2023 and the Vanilla Powder!  Looks like lots of yummy baking in our futures!

*The spice grinders, food processors, mini preps, blenders, mortar and pestles, airtight storage containers, and White Lily self-rising flour are Amazon affiliate links.  Happy baking, thanks!  Please see the "info" tab for more, well, info.

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