When I was little my grandmother always had a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies sitting on her kitchen counter. They weren’t the large cookies you see now days in bakeries. They were relatively small, perfectly round, two bite cookies. The cookies always had a soft interior, and were slightly crisp on the edges.
My grandmother would sit us down at the kitchen table, pour us a cold glass of milk (put into commemorative Snoopy glasses from a popular fast food chain), and hand us a plate of her delicious cookies. When my grandparents sold their home I remember thinking, “All I really want to have is the Snoopy glasses and my grandmother's chocolate chip cookie recipe.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get either one, but it started my search for the chocolate chip recipe of my childhood.
Homemade vanilla extract is prized for its full, rich, complex flavor and an incredibly smooth aroma. Homemade vanilla extract is truly in a different league than what can be procured from most grocery stores. The difference between pure vanilla and imitation vanilla is simple. Pure vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans, while imitation vanilla utilizes imitation flavors and chemicals.
All photos courtesy of MyBakingAddiction.com
Making vanilla extract is fun and simple! Simply take 5 whole vanilla beans, split lengthwise and add to 8 ounces of 35%+ alcohol. Any type of alcohol can be used, but bottom shelf vodka is most common because it will not add any additional flavors to the extract. Bourbon, rum and brandy can also be used. After 8 short weeks the extract is ready to enjoy.