Remember back in January, when the world was cold (for us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway!) and hope manifested itself in the promise of a seven-year supply of homemade vanilla? Split some magic beans, tuck them in a bottle with a lot of vodka, and in mere months you’d be laughing at the suckers who buy their extract at large tent sales.
It seems like only six months ago. Oh yeah, that’s because it was.
Today I pulled it out of the cupboard where I’d hidden it, it looked like this:
I’m not sure if we split the beans right or crossed our fingers tightly enough to release the beans’ essence. Our “vanilla” sure looked a bit light, especially when I compared it to the one I bought at the store.
Our homemade version was also very watery (like vodka straight up) rather than syrupy like the other.
And the taste? It’s vodka lightly spritzed with a vanilla flavor. Very lightly. Again, it might be because we didn’t treat the beans nicely enough or it could be that it needs to age a lot longer.
My kids didn’t care at all. I had promised to bake two sets of cookies — one with the homemade vanilla, one with the store-bought stuff — for them to taste-test. No matter that there’s only one teaspoon in a whole batch. No matter that the one teaspoon you do put in only serves to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. A promise — especially one about cookies — is a promise.
So today I diligently made the different cookies and set them out in a blind test. The results? They pretty much looked the same.
And they tasted exactly the same, although if pressed, 3 out of 4 people living in my house chose the ones made with store-bought vanilla. I couldn’t tell a difference at all. One teaspoon of extract doesn’t stand a chance with all that sugar and chocolate chip goodness.
So back into the cupboard it goes. I’ll check on it in another six months or so and see what it has to say for itself.