This year for Christmas I decided to put a little more effort into handmade goodies and gifts. Of course having surgery has created some forced time off, which gave me the time to do some small things for my friends and family. :-)
Carole's post a few weeks back kind of got the creative juices rolling for me. Who doesn't love real Vanilla extract? Myself, I keep opening the bottles and sucking in all of the yummy good smells. The extract really needs to sit for 6 weeks to be at it's full potency, so for now I just keep sniffing and smiling.
So following Carole's que, I purchased my 4 ounce bottles here and my vanilla beans here. I went with the Madagascar beans, but next time I will experiment with a few others as well.
Once everything arrived, I set about cutting my beans in half and then sliced them up the middle leaving about 1/2 inch. Each bottle was stuffed with 4 halves and then topped off with Vodka....well a few of the bottles were filled with brandy and one with some rum. It will be fun to see how the different alcohol flavors blend with the vanilla.
Then came the labels. After reading Carole's post, I did a little blog surfing on homemade Vanilla Extract and came across this blog . I love the clean simple lines of the labels that Elaine created, so I have to admit I copied hers completely, which she is ok with. Elaine gave the type and sizes to a number of the people in her comment section. :-) You can find the labels here. Oh my...so much fun can be had with these different labels!! I LOVE the Italian Dish's entire blog....such a great read!
Making the sea salted caramel was a bit more challenging the first time around, but once you get the right temperature it takes to get just the right texture it's very easy....and oh SO good! My first batch came out so hard, it qualified as toffee, not caramel...LOL, but those will be used in toffee cookies later this week. The key temperature is 250 degrees on a candy thermometer...not a point higher or lower and you will get perfect caramel each and every time.
I basically followed this recipe, except for one ingredient.
Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup. I had read on a few blogs that you get a nicer texture and flavor from Lyle's Syrup, but ey yi yi, finding it up here in this neck of the woods was not a happening thing. I ended up ordering it online and thankfully it arrived very quickly. You can also order it from King Arthur's Flour, but the turn around time was not quite as fast.
I had so much fun making these simple yet satisfying treats and I think that the recipients have enjoyed them as well. :-)
The next post will be about the Holiday Knitting, which is a FIRST for me. :-)