I am so in love with vanilla beans right now. They have such a lovely vanilla taste that vanilla essence can't beat. I bought a pack of 10 for $10 from Phoon Huat about two months ago and I still have about five or six of them left. I've used them for making vanilla ice-cream twice, this mousse, poached pears and vanilla buttercream for macarons. I am thinking of what I should use the rest for... (: I've put some left over dried vanilla beans with some sugar in a container and the sugar smells simply wonderful.
Thick luscious salted caramel.