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Vanilla powder, a Pantry Special (Recipe: cinnamon and vanilla challah French toast)

Cinnamon and vanilla challah French toast 

Vanilla powder (also known as ground vanilla), a very recent arrival in my pantry courtesy of Cousin Martin's eclipse-watching trip to Tahiti, takes the bean out of vanilla beans. It's made by grinding whole dried vanilla beans into a powder. No fuss, no muss, no leftover slit vanilla pods (after all, how many of those can you stick in the sugar jar?). You get pure vanilla flavor without the additional alcohol in extracts, and, unlike extracts, the powder can be added directly to warm liquids and the flavor will not dilute. Best of all, you still can see the little flecks of vanilla in your dish. Be careful when purchasing, as some vanilla powders (including some popular brands) also contain sugar; read the label to be sure you are getting 100% pure vanilla powder. When baking, add vanilla powder with the dry ingredients. If your recipe calls for one teaspoon of vanilla extract, substitute one-half teaspoon of vanilla powder and add one more teaspoon of liquid (milk, buttermilk, etc.) to the wet ingredients.

Is this Pantry Special new to you?

Vanilla powder

Make your own:
How to make vanilla powder

Where to buy:
My Spice Sage ($9.50/1 oz)

Cinnamon and vanilla challah French toast

Cinnamon and vanilla challah French toast

When I was growing up, every Saturday morning my dad would make French toast from the egg-rich challah left from Friday night dinner. It's still a treat, but if you don't have challah, try this recipe with brioche, pannetone, or other egg bread, or with any thick-sliced country white bread. Serves 2-3; can be doubled.


3 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp milk, any type
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
6 slices challah, brioche, or other egg bread


Preheat a griddle or large nonstick frying pan to medium-low heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla powder, cinnamon and milk, until smooth and slightly frothy.

Melt the butter on the griddle or in the frying pan.

Dunk each slice of bread into the egg mixture, making sure both sides are coated. Don't let the bread sit so long in the egg that it begins to fall apart, but do allow some of the egg mixture to soak into the bread. Place the bread slices on the griddle. Let cook 2-3 minutes on one side. When nicely browned, flip the slices and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until browned.

Serve hot, with additional butter and maple syrup.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Peach vanilla muffins
Whole wheat lemon lime yogurt cupcakes
Chocolate sorbet with vanilla orange sauce
Classic pecan pie
Fresh apple cake

Other recipes that use vanilla powder:
Crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies, from Zaiqa
Macarons with vanilla-honey buttercream, from Hey,That Tastes Good!
Cinnamon vanilla baked plantains, from Karma-Free Cooking
Vegan cappuccino brownies, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Vanilla-vanilla bean roasted apple pie, from Wicked Good Dinner

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Mmmn, good. Must try this and what great pictures. Thanks for sharing this. It's 11pm and I am wishing it was breakfast time instead.

Wow, I will have to watch out for some dried vanilla. Whoever thought of that is right on the money:D

OOH!! My favorite flavor made better! This is a "must have".

Thank you for the recipe link to the apple pie :-)

Yes, it's new to me. I have never seen vanilla powder. I wonder how long it will take Trader Joe's to find it!

Wow, brand new to me, and for a chronic baker, what a great idea! Of course I just stocked up on Baldwin Vanilla Extract, but now I want to experiment with the powder, too.

I saw the vanilla powder on The Kitchen Butterfy's blog. She showed how to make it yourself. It worked better to freeze the vanilla beans first. I haven't tried it yet because I have my own extract that I made to use first. I really should make it and use up my organic beans! This recipe sounds so good with the cinnamon and vanilla!

I can't say that I've ever heard of vanilla powder, but I can see how French Toast is the thing to do with it!

Awesome and thanks for the new ingredient! :)

what a great new ingredient!! Would be great added into or dusted onto the top of hot beverages like hot cocoa and coffee!! YUM!

IN search of something else, I made a trip to Zingerman's (by bike!!) and so I also bought a tiny jar of Madegascar powdered vanilla. Thanks for the idea.

Oops! I have some, in a boxed set of vanillas, in tubes -- whole beans, van sugar, dried chunks and powder. A lucky find at OS Job Lot. So now, how should I use it first?

Great photos in this post, especially the ones with the trivet! I love French Toast but haven't made it for years, sigh.

Jo, no reason to have French toast only for breakfast (hint, hint)!

Bellini Valli, isn't it a great discovery? I'm so grateful to my cousin for bringing me some from Tahiti.

Pauline, you'll love this. I'm sure of it.

Dawn, you're quite welcome.

Mae, I'm so glad you found some (hooray for Zingerman's). Be sure to let us know how you use it. I need lots of ideas.

TW, every baker's kitchen should have Baldwin vanilla extract, but I think you'll find different ways to use this powder. And the aroma is amazing!

Lyndsey, thanks for the tip about freezing the beans.

Nick, I love French toast and I'm a bit of a purist, but my husband really loved this vanilla and cinnamon version. Challah is a must for me.

Carol, vanilla powder in hot cocoa sounds delicious. I'm going to try that.

Susan, Job Lot is always full of surprises! I've used the powder in muffins and in this French toast, but I like some of the ideas here -- coffee, ice cream, cocoa. Let us know how you use it.

Kalyn, my wonderful husband Ted made the trivets I use for photography on the blogs. I'm so lucky to have them. Thanks for noticing!

What a wonderful reason to go to Tahiti and what a wonderful gift to bring back from Tahiti. The French toast looks delish! What are trivets? Now I gotta go look that up.

Paz (always learning something new) ;-)

Wow! I've got beans I bought in Tahiti - I never knew I could just grind them into a powder. Terrific!

Funny thing - I've been soooo into French toast recently. I just can't photograph it as beautifully as you do!

OK, you asked what I did with my new Madagascar pure vanilla powder. I sprinkled some on a sliced peach for breakfast. And made from-scratch vanilla pudding with 1/2 tsp of this new spice. All good!

Best from Mae, eating well in Ann Arbor, thanks this time to Zingerman's.

This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes. The picture is amazing and really comes to life. Who cares what time it is breakfast is good at any time.

I use Aromaven vanilla powder for all of my cooking needs because the only other option here in Venezuela is imitation vanilla extract. At first I was skeptical of the powder but now I can highly recommend it. I find that once added to the other ingredients, it can take a little bit of time for the flavor to fully expand. So, I would recommend making sure to let the ingredients or final product sit for a little while if using the powder, this will help maximize the flavor of the vanilla.

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