Have you heard about vanilla powder? Not many have because it tends to take a backseat to the wonderful whole vanilla bean and pure delight of vanilla extract and paste. Yet, vanilla-loving bakers and chefs will tell you it’s a hidden gem that everyone should have in their pantry.
Vanilla powder harnesses the pure essence of prized whole vanilla beans in a dry, ground form. It contains no alcohol or synthetic substances and is packed with immunity- and mood-boosting nutrients and vitamins. Vanilla powder is quite simply the best way to enjoy the intense, sweet aroma of the world’s favourite spice.
What is vanilla powder?
Vanilla powder is made from whole Grade B extract vanilla beans that are dried and ground into a fine powder. To make it at home, you need to dry the beans to zero percent humidity before grinding them, using a mortar and pestle. It’s a pricier option than pure vanilla extract but because the powder is super concentrated, a little goes a long way.
Extract beans are typically used to make homemade vanilla powder because the pods contain less moisture than Grade A beans. They usually look split, hard and less pretty than gourmet beans but looks don’t matter when they’re packed with flavour.
The best thing about making homemade vanilla powder is you can use whole beans that you’ve used in another recipe. Save any spent vanilla beans you’ve split and scraped the seeds out of for a recipe and re-use them to dry out and grind into powder. There is still a lot of flavour left in the delicate pods which you don’t want to waste.
What is vanilla powder used for?
Vanilla-loving bakers and chefs will use vanilla powder in any recipe that calls out for a powerful aromatic punch. It’s the perfect substitute to fresh vanilla beans because the powder keeps for longer. It’s also a great alternative to store-bought vanilla extract because when you grind your own vanilla beans into a powder, you know exactly what’s in it. No nasty chemicals or synthetic ingredients like store-bought vanilla extract and powder.
Powdered beans are popular for recipes for white-baked goods such as vanilla cakes, scones and cupcakes as well anglaise for homemade ice-cream as well as delicate creamy sauces for fine-dining dishes. Vanilla powder is often used as sprinkle dust over cookies, waffles and pancakes, much like vanilla sugar.
Many bakers and chefs prefer vanilla powder over pure extract because it doesn’t contain alcohol, either for religious reasons or because the powder maintains its flavour and aroma better under high heat.
Why vanilla powder is the best
We all love the gorgeous aroma and taste of vanilla in baked and savoury goods but whole vanilla beans are expensive. That’s why, when you have precious pods in your kitchen, you want the powerful flavour punch to last for longer.
Vanilla powder is naturally more concentrated than pure vanilla extract because it’s dry and contains no liquid. It has a stronger taste and more potent aroma than vanilla extract which means you need less of it in your recipe. Typically, you only need ½ a teaspoon of powder for every teaspoon of vanilla extract in a recipe.
The fine off-white powder also dissolves more quickly than extract because it doesn’t contain alcohol and sugar, meaning it releases its aroma and taste more readily. This makes vanilla powder perfect for on-the-go smoothies and beverages like milkshakes, iced tea and coffee.
Actually, come to think of it, vanilla powder is best for everything!