This artisanal take requires real vanilla bean syrup you make yourself stirred into steamy real milk. It’s a comforting beverage made all the more satisfying because you made it from scratch. Don’t worry, making the syrup yourself isn’t difficult, it just takes a few extra steps of scraping out a vanilla bean (those tiny seeds are called caviar, did you know that? So fancy). And you can store the leftover syrup in the fridge for a week so you can make Vanilla Steamers the next night, and the next, and the next.
Vanilla gets a bad rap for being plain, but that’s far from the truth. Those of us with refined palates can appreciate its light sweetness, which is enhanced when stirred into steaming 2% milk. As comforting as it is tasty, this vanilla steamer is caffeine-free. Have some before bed, paired with the next episode of whatever it is you’re binge-watching.
For the Vanilla Bean Syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean
For the Vanilla Steamers:
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla bean syrup
Prepare the vanilla bean syrup by splitting the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise. Scrape the tiny seeds (called caviar) from inside the vanilla bean. Combine the sugar with the water in a medium saucepan. Stir in the vanilla bean caviar. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and syrup reduces slightly; about 5 minutes. Float the now scraped vanilla bean pod in the syrup as it cools. Once the syrup cools to warm, pour the vanilla syrup into a glass jar through a fine mesh strainer.
Heat the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan set over medium heat. The milk should be steaming with tiny bubbles around the edges. Remove the hot milk from the heat and stir in the warm vanilla syrup. Vigorously whisk the hot vanilla milk for 20 to 30 seconds to add froth. The higher the fat content in the milk, the more frothy the milk will appear.
Pour the steaming vanilla milk evenly between two mugs, using a large spoon to hold back the froth. Once the mugs are full, gently spoon the froth over top.
Store the remaining vanilla bean syrup in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for one week.