Celebrate the bees with hot honey delights
September marks National Honey Month, which means it’s time to grab that handy bottle of honey and whip up something sweet—or spicy—in celebration of humankind’s oldest natural sweetener.
An 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain recorded honey harvesting, and honey has been used for food, medicine and more ever since, according to the National Honey Board.
But honey is about the honeybees—one of the planet’s most important insects. They visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, pollinating plants and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive, where it is stored and developed into honey.
Adopting the flavors of its nectar source, Virginia honey comes in many unique flavors thanks to the state’s floral diversity, including wildflower, thistle and locust. And with a growing beekeeping industry in the commonwealth, homegrown honey is more accessible than ever—with more than 250,000 pounds of honey from roughly 7,000 honeybee colonies produced annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
These recipes spotlight the flavor of chili-infused honey. Used in both sweet and savory dishes, hot honey adds a new depth of flavor to already-delectable dishes—like pizza and churros.
Honey also has been found to soothe sore throats, provide a natural energy boost, and contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.
To find locally sourced honey near you, visit the Virginia Grown website.
Prosciutto Ricotta Pizza with Herbs, Arugula & Balsamic Hot Honey
For Balsamic Hot Honey:
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup honey
2 small chili peppers, seeds removed, minced
1 pound refrigerated pizza dough
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup fontina cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh chopped tarragon
1 4-ounce package prosciutto, each piece cut in half
3 cups arugula
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 425°.
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey and chili peppers, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes until the mixture is reduced by about a quarter. Set aside to cool.
On a sheet pan, roll out the pizza dough into a circle and roll the edges a bit. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the fontina cheese, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
While the pizza is cooking, mix the ricotta cheese with the honey, nutmeg and tarragon.
Dollop the ricotta cheese evenly onto the pizza, add the prosciutto, and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Bake for another 6-8 minutes.
Top the pizza with the arugula and Parmesan, and drizzle with the Balsamic Hot Honey.
Tip: You can use pre-cooked pizza crusts or flatbreads for a timesaver. Just be sure to reduce the cook time accordingly.
Hot Honey Churros
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon honey
½ tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
nonstick spray, as needed
vegetable oil (for frying), as needed
For Honey Chili Sauce:
5 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons chili paste (sambal)
In a saucepan, melt butter and water.
Add flour, and stir continuously. Keep stirring over the heat until the mixture thickens and comes together to form a smooth “ball.”
Remove from the heat, and stir in the eggs one at a time. Add the honey, sugar and vanilla, and mix well.
Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle.
Apply nonstick spray to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Pipe out small spiral shapes with the dough.
In a stockpot, heat oil to 360°.
Once the oil is hot, drop the churro spirals into the oil one by one, using a spatula. Turn on each side until golden brown in color.
Remove from the oil, and place onto absorbent paper. Let cool.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix honey and chili paste. Stir well.
Once the churros are cool, brush them with the honey chili sauce using a pastry brush, or use the sauce as a dip.
—Recipes adapted by the National Honey Board.