I knew I would be making vanilla extract favors for MOH-Ho's shower before I came up with the 'Sugar Spice Nice' theme, decided to serve desserts, or remotely considered any other detail. It was kind of a given in my mind because of MOH-Ho's love for baking. I also love that it's consumable, renewable, and has that personal homemade touch.
I later decided to add the vanilla sugar as well so that guests from the same household (aunt & cousin) won't have to take 2 of the same favor home.
Making vanilla extract is actually quite simple, all you're doing is soaking vanilla beans in vodka and letting it sit. Before doing my research I jumped the gun and bought premium grade vanilla beans, only to realized later that the cheaper lower grade versions (for the lower moisture content) were actually better for extract making. Oh well.
Madagascar vanilla beans are most commonly used for extract, so that's what I got. Beans are split in half and placed in bottles:
Then the bottles are filled with vodka. There are varying recipes out there for the proportions, but all say that more extract can be made by refilling with vodka. My interpretation of that is, if you let it sit long enough, most reasonable vanilla:vodka ratio will work. I put one bean in each bottle that holds about 1/2 cup of vodka.
You gotta shake 'em up real good and store in a cool and dark place for at least a couple of months, with additional shake sessions in between. I took these couple pics right after filling them all up. See the pretty color already showing?
The finishing touch was a paper strip seal plus tag that matches the rest of the shower stationary. The strips were nothing but scraps made useful. Remember the shower invites vellum envelopes? Before cutting them down to the right envelope size, I printed on the edges like this:
so they can be cut to make the paper strip seals. They were first attached with rubber cement, which worked well but was a bit messy. In the end, MOH-Ho just ran them through her trusty Xyron for ease. On the back of the matching tag was a thank you note and instructions on making the refills.
Now onto the vanilla infused sugar:
For the sugar I chose the more fruity Tahitian beans, which were cut diagonally into small pieces to provide the most vanilla exposure.
I filled the chosen jar with table sugar to get the right amount:
then mix the vanilla bits with the sugar:
Pour them back into the jars, seal, and that's it! I left these alongside the extract to sit for months.
The little specks spread in the sugar was really quite pretty, if only I had the photography skills to capture it...
Like the extract, the sugar also had a matching tag with a thank you note. Since no instructions were necessary I added suggestions for uses (in coffee/tea for added flavor, etc.)And that's it! I was pleasantly surprised at how well these turned out, I sure hope the guests like them!