Vanilla Beans + Sea Salt = Vanilla Sea Salt
Vanilla sea salt. Just the two ingredients together bring out the best in foods: the vanilla beans giving a slight perfumy aroma and the sea salt heightening flavors. (The Independent has a great article on the science of salt.)
Sea salt is courser than table salt, and while it is less processed, both have the same nutritional value. In pastry, sea salt's courser grind is often reserved for special purposes like a black treacle and stone-ground whole wheat flour bread (Saveur), or sprinkling it on sweets like Double Chocolate Pudding (James Beard Foundation) and Pecan Shortbread with Fennel (Bon Appetit). So why not give the sea salt a little vanilla kick?
How to make it? Here is a basic recipe for vanilla sea salt, and it has just two ingredients. Take about a cup of sea salt and place it in a jar with a couple of inches of head space for stirring and shaking, and make sure the lid is tight fitting. Choose 2 full, plump fresh vanilla beans - the best that you have as the more fresh they are, the more fragrant the salt will be. Cut them up into 1 to 2 inch size pieces. Add them to the salt and mix so they are completely covered by the sea salt.
Place the jar on the counter, spaced away from the sun. Shaking every couple of days until the salt is fragrant from the vanilla beans, at least 3 weeks for the full flavor to begin to develop.
The vanilla bean will keep infidelity in the salt so there is no need to remove it. Use the vanilla sea salt as desired.