Even though I don’t bake sweets very often, and with the several disastrous examples that I’ve posted here, I still make my own vanilla sugar and vanilla extract.
They are just too easy to not make.
Start with about 5 vanilla beans. Split them with a knife, but do not scrape out the seeds. For the extract, put 3 of the beans in a jar or bottle (an old grolsch beer bottle works perfect here), and cover with vodka. Put it in a dark place and let it steep. It’s ready to use in about 8 weeks, though it just gets better and better with age. I always have two bottles going, one for using and one steeping. Then when the one I am currently using runs out, I start using the one that had been aging, and immediately begin a new one aging.
Making vanilla sugar is just as easy. Take the other 2 beans, split them, again, don’t extract the seeds. Place them in a jar and cover with sugar. I started using the sugar after a couple of weeks, it becomes so fragrant almost immediately! As you use the sugar, just add more in, kind of stirring it up to mix the old with the new.
I use the homemade vanilla extract in any recipe calling for vanilla extract. The sugar is fantastic used in and sprinkled on baked goods. I also use it in frozen desserts. It makes vanilla ice cream doubly delicious!