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Eleventh Day of Christmas Gift

vanilla alaea sea salt

Fleur de Sel (Flower of Salt) is French sea salt that is hand-harvested by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt from the sea before it sinks to the bottom of large salt evaporation ponds. Traditional French fleur de sel is collected off the coast of Brittany, most notably in the town of Guérande, making Fleur de Sel de Guérande the most revered of all sea salts.

vannila fleur de sel

I’ve used Fleur de Sel de Guérande to make my Vanilla Fleur de Sel before, but it is a bit too pricey to use for multiple gift giving. A more budget-conscience but still very lovely salt to use is Pink Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt. It is conveniently found at Cost Plus World Market in a 1-pound bag. While you are there picking up the salt, grab a couple vanilla beans as well. That’s all you’ll need for this Eleventh Day of Christmas Gift.

That’s right, only two ingredients to make this gift, the easiest of the dozen!

vanilla sea salt

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Vanilla Sea Salt is a wonderful condiment to have and to give. It brings out subtle flavors in sweet and savory dishes from seafood, poultry, salads, and vegetables to sweet breads, chocolate, and popcorn. I love how it brings a delicate sweet tone to foods without adding a drop of sugar.

It is perfect for making salted vanilla bean caramels and is an extravagant addition to the extravagance of Foie Gras.

Or how about using for a Vanilla Fleur de Sel, Chocolate, and Caramel Buttercream? Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Most importantly, you can not beat it as a margarita glass rimmer. Especially on Elote’s De Lujo Margarita. The vanilla salt on the rim brings out and enhances the warm vanilla flavor already present in the margarita – awesome stuff!

vanilla pink sea salt

Vanilla Sea Salt

1 pound Pink Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt or Fleur de Sel
2 fresh (soft and flexible) vanilla beans

salt and vanilla beans

Place about 1/4 cup of the salt in a jar.

tip of knife

Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise.

back of knife for seeds

Using the back of the same paring knife, scrape the vanilla seeds from one of the bean halves and place atop the salt in the jar.

cut beans

Use kitchen shears to cut the emptied vanilla bean half into 4 pieces.

layer beans, seed, salt

Place the pieces in the jar with the seeds.

keep layering

Repeat with the remaining 3 vanilla bean halves, layering with more salt as you go. Finishing with a layer of salt on top. Shake the jar to distribute the vanilla and salt.

set for 2 to 3 days

Set aside for 2 days, giving the jar a good shake every now and again.  After 2 days the salt with have absorbed all the moisture from the bean pieces and they will be hard and crispy.

pour on plate

Pour the salt onto a flat bowl or plate and remove the bean pieces.

beans into grinder

Place in a clean spice grinder* and process until the beans are finely ground.

finely ground

Add the ground beans back to the salt, return the mixture to the jar and shake.

vanilla salt closeup

The Vanilla Salt is now ready to use …

vanilla Hawaiian sea salt

… or to re-package into smaller jars for gift giving!

*To clean the spice grinder, run small pieces of fresh bread through the grinder.

clean with bread

This will remove the residue from previous use and will absorb most of the flavors.

vanilla wipe down

For this particular recipe, I then like to dab a bit of vanilla extract on a paper towel and use it to wipe out the inside of the grinder. Doing so, removes all other flavors and imparts a bit of vanilla flavor before I use it to grind the vanilla beans.


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