The Wait is Over


A little while ago, I mentioned I was impatiently waiting for some vanilla extract. Well, I’m happy to announce it has arrived! Or better said, it’s ready. After reading that vanilla extract is very easy to make and much cheaper than importing it, I knew I had to try it out myself. And well, it turns out, it’s true 🙂

The only real vanilla extract I’ve found in Germany was around 11 Euro for a very small bottle, which is just insane. I bought two vanilla beans for 3Euro and a bottle of vodka for 5Euro. I only used about 1/3 of the bottle, so, I made about 1c of vanilla extract for less than 5Euro- not too shabby. Also, I’ve read that I can continue to use these same vanilla beans over and over, so that’s next on my list to try.

Anyway, all you need is vanilla beans, vodka and a glass jar. I read many suggested ratios to use but settled on 2 vanilla beans to 1 cup of vodka, and it seems to have worked. The hardest part was waiting for it to be ready.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

2 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka
1 glass jar with lid (you could use the vodka bottle)

Slice the vanilla beans in half and scrape out the vanilla beans into the vodka in a glass jar. Chop the vanilla roughly and add to the seeds and vodka. Cover and place in a dark, dry place. Let seep for a minimum of 6 weeks, shaking occasionally.

Slice the vanilla beans and scrape the seeds.

Right after mixing the vanilla and vodka.

After six weeks! Pure vanilla extract 🙂

An American friend who currently lives in Spain visited last weekend, so the first thing I made with the vanilla was French toast. There’s nothing like a little taste of home when you’ve been gone for so long.

I then decided it would be nice to finally bake cookies with real vanilla extract instead of Vanillinzucker, so I obviously had to create a recipe. I had a black banana waiting to be turned into something delicious, so that was the source of my inspiration, then I just sort of emptied out my cupboard. The first time I made these, they were a bit crumbly, but I played around with them, and am now sort of in love. The banana adds natural sweetness, so there’s not much added sugar, and they’re filled with nutrients from the flax, spelt flour, oats, and almonds. They’re fudgy and crunchy, and if you’re a banana fan, I’m sure you’ll love them, too 🙂

Double-Chocolate Banana Nut Cookies
A HungryAmi original recipe

1.5T ground flax meal
3T water
1/2c old fashioned oats
1/3c spelt flour (AP would probably work, too)
2T cocoa powder
1/2t baking soda (1tsp German variety)
1/2t baking powder
1/2t salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 overripe medium banana, the riper the better
1t vanilla extract (or Vanillinzucker)
1/4c maple syrup
2T raw sugar
1/4c chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1/4c chopped roasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).

Mix the ground flax seed and water in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: oats, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon.

In a large bowl, mash the banana. Add the flax/water mixture, vanilla, maple syrup, and sugar.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate and almonds.

Drop by spoonful onto a parchment lined (or greased) cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy or share with friends who helped you schlep furniture across town 😉

A close up- see the banana and melted chocolate?

I shared them with some friends who helped me pick up a new bed frame, table and chairs I found on eBay Kleinanzeigen (what the Germans use instead of Craigslist). Since I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Germany, I’m trying to find as much used furniture as possible to save money. The one exception I was going to make with this was a mattress. I only accept used mattresses from friends and family, but it turns out one of my friends had one and offered it to me 🙂 I’m sure it was a funny sight seeing us walk across Fulda with my new furniture. Even though my apartment is very central, it’s times like these where I miss being able to rent a truck hourly with Zipcar, but oh well, I guess it just adds to the adventure of living abroad. Luckily, my friends have been very gracious in offering their help- it probably helps that I pay with cookies 😉


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