Store all items in this kit in air-tight containers in a cool, dark, dry place.
Once the seal is broken on the 1lb pack of vanilla beans, they should be packed in sugar or in plastic bags with as much air as possible removed (ideally re-vacuum packed using a home vacuum pump) to preserve them at best quality.
This kit was designed to make it easy for you to make gift baskets for friends, family, coworkers, etc. We recommend separating these bulk-packaged items into separate jars or decorative bags, labeling them and packing them in baskets, gift bags or shipping them as care packages.
To best preserve their quality, vanilla beans should be repackaged packed in sugar (which will protect them while becoming scented with vanilla essence), or vacuum packed using a food preservation vacuum pump. Keeping them out of the air will help them stay moist and flavorful. In a pinch you can pack them in plastic bags with as much air as possible pressed out.
See below for recipes & usage tips you can pass along to the recipients:
Demerara sugar is a larger-crystal granulated sugar with a more brown color and more of a molasses flavor than plain granulated sugar. The large crystals can be used to top cookies, pastries, etc before baking. Because they won’t melt when baked, they add crunch and a different look.
Demerara sugar is a classic choice for topping desserts that are going to be bruleed (crème brulee being the most classic example). It can also be stirred into hot beverages or used to make simple syrups with a more complex flavor than those made with plain sugar.
How to Make Simple Syrup
Sugar Recipes & Techniques
The rich, complex flavor of hazelnuts is a welcome addition to both sweet and savory dishes. Add them to baked goods, vegetable side dishes, seafood dishes, salads & more as you would other nuts.
To awaken their full flavor, briefly toast hazelnuts in a 350˚F oven until hot & aromatic (7-10 minutes). Nuts scorch easily, so be sure to check on them frequently and shake the pan periodically to redistribute them and promote even toasting.
To peel hazelnuts, wrap them in a towel immediately after toasting (while still hot). Once the towel is cool enough to hold, vigorously rub the nuts together. This should crack the skins and cause them to start flaking off. Finish peeling them with your fingers once the nuts have cooled enough to handle with bare skin. You may not be able to remove every speck of the skin…that’s normal.
Dried Tart Cherries:
Dried cherries are sometimes rehydrated before being used as an ingredient. The most common way to do this is to place the fruit in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until plump, then drain the water.
You can also steam them or poach them in liquid on the stove. This poaching liquid need not be pure water. Many chefs rehydrate dried fruits in alcohol to infuse them with additional flavor.
Dried cherries are particularly good in scones, granola, sauces and cookies. Pair them with flavors like vanilla beans, dark or white chocolate, balsamic vinegar, dairy (cream, crème fraiche, mascarpone), lemon, and duck meat.
Shredded coconut can be used (as shreds or more finely chopped) in a huge variety of dessert recipes. Add it to cakes, pies, cookies, macaroons, and other desserts. It can be used as a garnish or coating as well.
For dessert applications pair coconut with ingredients like tropical fruit (passion fruit, lychees, mangos, pineapple), chocolate, milk or cream, lemon, green tea, honey or almonds.
Because it is unsweetened, this coconut can also be used in savory dishes – try pairing it with ingredients like lemongrass, seafood (especially shrimp or lobster), cilantro, chilies, lentils, chicken, or rice.
To intensify its nutty flavor, coconut shreds can be briefly toasted in a thin layer in a 325˚F oven until lightly browned and fragrant. Keep a close eye on it and shake the pan or baking dish frequently to redistribute the shreds and keep them from burning.
Dried Mission Figs:
Dried mission figs have their hard stem attached, which is often not consumed. If using figs as an ingredient, we recommend slicing off the stem first. Some chefs feel that dried figs work better as ingredients when they are soaked for about 24 hours in prior to use.
Dried figs can simply be eaten out of hand (though they are sometimes too moist for use in trail mixes), but they’re also wonderful in baked goods (particularly panforte), sauces, braised dishes and desserts.
Dried fruit is sometimes rehydrated before being used as an ingredient. The most common way to do this is to place the fruit in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until plump, then drain the water.
Dried figs can also be steamed or poached in liquid on the stove. Many chefs rehydrate dried fruits in alcohols to infuse them with additional flavor.
In addition to being chopped for use in baked goods, figs work particularly well (usually rehydrated) in simple desserts with cream, ice cream, or mascarpone cheese, along with spices, honey or caramel. They can also be stuffed with nuts and/or sweeter blue cheeses.
For savory dishes, pair mission figs with flavors like nuts (especially almonds, walnuts or pistachios), cheeses (blue, parmesan, manchego, or ricotta), cured meat, pork, rabbit, pheasant, guinea fowl and/or red wine.
How to Use a Vanilla Bean
There are dozens of ways to use vanilla beans. When you have a recipe that calls for the inner seeds of vanilla beans, don’t throw away the pod. They still have plenty of flavor left in them that can be extracted by steeping the pod in alcohol or hot liquids (cream, simple syrup, milk, etc).
How to Make Vanilla Extract