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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Honey/Sugar/Syrup

TIP OF THE DAY: Try Arrope

arrope-beauty-mieldepalma.com-230

Arrope syrup. There’s also an arrope
preserve with pumpkin (see photo below).
Photo courtesy Miel de Palma.

 

Arrope (ah-ROE-pay), a cooking and condiment syrup, is a product that few of us have in our kitchens. Yet, if you’re a serious cook (or eater), it’s an ingredient you should know about.

If your parents are serious cooks/eaters, it’s an idea for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift—so much tastier than another scarf or tie.

And if no one cooks, there’s a delicious arrope pumpkin preserve, a recipe that derives from the ancient use of arrope to preserve or stew fruits. The pumpkin is cooked in the arrope until it is candied. It’s delicious as a sweet-and-earthy bread spread or a condiment with creamy goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses (see photo below).

In fact, when you go to purchase arrope, you need to be specific. Otherwise, you can easily be sold the preserve instead of the syrup, or vice versa. Tip: If the word “pumpkin” appears, it’s the preserve.

WHAT IS ARROPE

A reduction of grape must, arrope is a condiment that dates to ancient Rome, where it was called defrutum or sapa. It survives as a gourmet Spanish condiment. The name comes from the Arabic word rubb, syrup.

 
Arrope is closely related to saba (also called sapa, mosto d’uva cotto and vin cotto). This group comprises ancient precursors to “modern” balsamic vinegar, which appeared in the 11th century.

So if you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, chances are good that you’ll be happy to discover arrope.

 

Like honey* and saba, in the days before sugar was widely available arrope was used to add sweetness. Today it is used in everything from drinks to salad dressings to sauces to desserts (try it with fruit salad or drizzled over ice cream). We use it as a glaze for roast poultry and meats. It easily substitutes in cooking for sweet wines such as sherry and marsala.

As civilization embraced massed-produced foods over artisan products in the latter half of the 20th century, the craft of making arrope—which involves carefully cooking down the must into a syrup over a period of weeks—has almost disappeared. It survives among a handful of artisan producers, carrying on family traditions. (Before modern times, arrope was made by the cook of the family.)

In Spain, the few remaining artisans produce arrope syrup (grape must reduction) and preserved pumpkin.

While it’s no leap to combine arrope in Spanish recipes, you can port it over to any cuisine—just as with Italy’s saba and France’s verjus.

 

arrope-jam-forevercheese-230

A Spanish cheese plate with typical condiments: fig cake, fresh figs, and in the back, a bowl of arrope preserve with candied pumpkin.

 
*Honey is sweet and syrupy straight from the hive (or straight from the hive and pasteurized). Arrope and saba are cooked to develop sweet-and-sour flavors including notes of cooked caramel.
 
HOW ARROPE IS MADE

It starts with a large quantity of grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that still contains all of the skins and seeds and stems. The must is very flavorful with high levels of sugar.

  • The fresh-pressed grape juice can be strained and sold as verjus, where it is used instead of citrus juice or vinegar.
  • Or, it can be cooked down into arrope or saba.
  • To make arrope, the must is boiled until the volume is reduced by at least 50%, and its viscosity is reduced to a thick syrup. There is no added sugar or pectin.
  • Saba is similarly boiled down into a syrup.
  •  
    Ready to try it? Check at your local specialty food market or order it online:

  • Arrope syrup (grape must reduction)
  • Arrope with pumpkin (preserve)
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: International Waffle Day

    International Waffle Day, which originated in Sweden, is celebrated in the U.S. on March 25th. There is a separate National Waffle Day, celebrated on August 24th, that was originally created to honor the waffle iron.

    The net of it is, you can celebrate a waffle holiday twice a year! Prepared sweet or savory, they can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    In different parts of the world, waffles are topped with confectioners’ sugar, honey, jam, even peanut butter. But in the U.S., what are waffles without maple syrup?

    And what’s with the different types of maple syrup?

    GRADES (VARIETIES) OF MAPLE SYRUP

    Because maple syrup is tapped in the winter, it has traditionally been seen as a winter flavor. But just like honey and sugar, it can be enjoyed year-round in recipes from cocktails to salad dressings and marinades to desserts.

    If you’re confused by the four grades of maple syrup (A Light Amber, A Medium Amber, A Dark Amber and B) here’s an explanation of the different types.

     

    chicken-waffles-2-sweetchickbklyn-230

    Chicken and waffles. Photo courtesy Daniel Krieger | Sweet Chick | Brooklyn.

     
    In brief, at the beginning of the season, the syrup runs light in both color and flavor, and is called Grade A Light Amber. By mid-season it’s Grade A Medium Amber, followed by Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. At the end of the season, it’s the strongest in flavor and color, commercial grade syrup.

    CROWN PREMIUM MAPLE SYRUP

    We recently received a bottle of Crown Maple syrup, certified organic. It is produced by Madava Farms, a family business in the historic Hudson River Valley of New York (Dutchess County).

    There, 800 acres of century-old, sustainably managed groves of sugar and red maples enjoy perfect soil and ideal seasonal weather conditions to produce a superior sap for maple sugaring.

    But production is a key determinant of quality. Far from the old primitive sugar house, Crown premium maple syrup is made at the most advanced maple syrup production facility in the country. The pristine sap collected from the maples is cooked using the latest in green, organic production techniques to produce syrups of exceptional quality.

     
    CROWN SYRUP VARIETIES

    As you can see from these tasting notes, different grades pair better with specific recipes.

    Light Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Flavors of popcorn, vanilla bean, roasted nuts, salted caramel and brown butter. Although light in color, the body has a pleasing weight and depth, with a sweetness and finish that lingers.
  • Uses: Pair with salty flavors, for example glazing pork belly or bacon. Try it in cocktails with whiskey as a base: Replace the muddled sugar cubes in an Old Fashioned. Use it as a substitute for palm sugar in Thai recipes.
  •  
    Medium Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Aromas of gingerbread and roasted chestnut with flavors of rye, butterscotch and spice.
  • Uses: Pair with baked breads, chocolate and ginger cookies and heavier spirits—barrel-aged bourbons or peaty, smoky Scotch. Use as a topping for chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
  •  

    light-amber-crown-230

    The handsome bottles are nicely boxed for
    gift giving. Photo courtesy Madava Farms.

     

    Dark Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: The flavor and aroma are similar to Medium Amber, but the syrup has more weight, depth and concentration. Aromas of coffee and cocoa beans are present, along with flavors of brown sugar and toasted almond.
  • Uses: Use instead of other sweeteners in coffee, and as an alternative to honey as a condiment for cheeses.
  •  
    Crown Maple Extra Dark for Cooking

  • Tasting Notes: A robust maple syrup with a great depth of flavor, richness and a bright finish.
  • Uses: For cooking and baking. The richness shines through even the boldest of food pairings.
  •  
    Where To Purchase

    A 12-ounce bottle, gift boxed, is $16.95; a samplers of all three is $59.95; and a “petite trio” of three small bottles (1.7 ounces each) is $15.95. An 12-ounce bottle of Extra Dark Syrup for Cooking is $27.95.

    A 10-ounce bag of maple sugar (see below) is 10.95.

    Buy them online at CrownMaple.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT WAFFLES

    The Ur-Waffle. Before there were modern waffles, there were the rustic hotcakes of the Neolithic Age (ca. 6000 B.C.E. to ca. 2000 B.C.E.). Made of cereal pulps, they were cooked on heated stones. Honey is as old as written history, dating back to 2100 B.C.E., where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code and the sacred writings of India and Egypt. We don’t know when man first decided to unite honey and hotcakes, but here’s the honey history.

    The Waffle Iron. The waffle iron—enabling pancake-type foods to be turned into textured waffles—was created in the 1200s, when a [presumably] pancake-loving craftsman combined cooking plates that reproduced a pattern of honeycombs.

    The Electric Waffle Iron. The electric waffle iron was introduced in 1911 by General Electric.

    Types Of Waffles. There are at least 11 varieties of waffles: American, Belgian/Brussels, Liège, Hong Kong Waffle, Krumcake, Malt, Pizzelle, Potato, Soft, Stroopwafel and, yes, Toaster. Take a look at the types of waffles.

    Here’s the complete history of waffles.

    The Center Of Syrup. Canada produces more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup, the vast majority in Quebec. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, followed by New York and Maine. But no matter how much is produced in the U.S., we need to import the majority of our syrup from Canada. (We have the trees to produce more syrup, but not the people who want to tap them.)

     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE WAFFLES WITH A TWIST

    Here’s a recipe from Crown that uses maple sugar instead of table sugar for even more maple flavor.

    Ingredients For 6 Large Waffles

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar (see note below
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT waffle iron to desired temperature.

    2. COMBINE all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and set aside.

    3. BEAT eggs in a separate bowl; stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.

    4. LADLE batter into heated waffle iron and cook until golden brown; serve immediately with maple syrup.

     

    WHAT IS MAPLE SUGAR

    Maple sugar is made from the sap from the maple tree, as opposed to the juice of sugar cane, from which table sugar is made. It has the same strong maple flavor and aroma as maple syrup.

    The sap is boiled until almost all of the water has been evaporated; the remaining product has crystallized. The sugar can be sold in large blocks, molded into small shapes or simply ground into a granulated version that can be used like regular sugar.

    Maple sugar can be used in the same way as cane sugar: in coffee, tea, baked goods and cocktails. It adds more complexity and richness than cane sugar.

    However, is almost twice as sweet as regular sugar, so when replacing cane sugar, you need to reduce the amount. Try using one-third less, and adjust to taste.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Honey For A Sore Throat Or Cough

    We wish you a healthy new year; but just in case those pesky cold viruses wish you a sore throat, here are two palliatives from the National Honey Board.

    For centuries (if not millenia), people have used honey as a natural cough suppressant. Research conducted by Penn State College of Medicine research shows that honey is an effective and natural alternative to over-the-counter cough medicines. As little as one to two teaspoons—from the spoon or in a cup of tea—can help ease and soothe the irritation caused by a cough.

    The National Honey Board turned to Nurse Practitioner Barbara Dehn, RN, MS, NP to develop honey cough and cold remedies. Soothing liquids both coat the throat and prevent dehydration. Nurse Barb has long supported using honey as a natural cough suppressant. Both kids and adults like the sweet taste of her homemade remedies much better than drugstore products.
     
    RECIPE: NURSE BARB’S HOMEMADE HONEY COUGH SYRUP

    Ingredients

  • Zest of 2 lemons (1-½ tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup peeled, sliced ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  •  

    This ice pop soothes a sore throat and helps to suppress a cough. Photo courtesy National Honey Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE lemon zest, sliced ginger and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes and then strain into a heat-proof measuring cup.

    2. RINSE the saucepan and add 1 cup of honey. On low heat, warm the honey, but do not allow it to boil. Add the strained lemon/ginger water and the lemon juice. Stir the mixture until it forms a thick syrup. Pour into a clean jar and seal with a lid.

    This cough syrup can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.

     

    Honey: a delicious remedy. Photo courtesy
    Golden Blossom Honey.

     

    Cough Syrup Dosage

  • For children ages, 1 to 5, use ½ -1 teaspoon every 2 hours.
  • For children ages, 5 to 12, use 1-2 teaspoon every 2 hours.
  • For children 12 and older and adults use 1 to 2 tablespoons every 4 hours.
  • Children younger than 1 should not be given honey.

    Serving Suggestions

  • Add 1 tablespoon to 4 ounces of water and pour in a Sippy cup. Older children can enjoy it in a cup of herbal tea; adults can enjoy it in black, green or white tea.
  • Serve 1 to 2 teaspoons over sliced bananas.
  • Add 1 tablespoon to ¼ cup of cream cheese and use as a spread for bread, bagels or toast.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to chamomile tea to help with sleep.
  •  

    NURSE BARB’S HONEY LEMON COUGHSICLES

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of Nurse Barb’s Honey Cough Syrup
  • 1-½ cups of water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX together 1/2 cup of Nurse Barb’s Honey Cough Syrup and 1½ cups of water. Pour into your favorite Popsicle molds, paper cups with wood sticks or other containers to freeze.
     
    ALL ABOUT HONEY

    Find everything you want to know about honey—the history of honey, different types of honey, food and honey pairings and more—in our Honey Section.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Maple Syrup

    We love real maple syrup—the kind that comes from maple trees. Most of the syrup purchased in supermarkets is called “breakfast syrup,” by law. It contains no real maple syrup—just artificial maple flavoring mixed with corn syrup (or worse, HFCS) and caramel coloring. Be sure the bottle says “100% real maple syrup.”

    Maple syrup has a life far beyond pancakes. You can pour it over hot or cold breakfast cereal, for starters.

    There’s plenty of pure maple syrup around, from New York, New England and Canada. Take a look at this starter list of suggestions, and decide how you’ll use it next.

    Appetizers & Sides

  • Buschetta: Spread toasted bread rounds with blue cheese, then drizzle with maple syrup.
  • Carrots: Toss 1 pound carrot slices or sticks (or baby carrots) with 2 tablespoons syrup, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast at 400°F for 15 minutes.
  • Compound Butter: Blend 1 tablespoon syrup with 1 stick softened butter. Use on baked carrots, muffins, and toast.
  • Polenta: Drizzle with syrup just before serving.
  •  

    Fig and maple syrup cocktail. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Chef Linnea Johannson | NYC.

     
    Mains

  • Glaze: brush onto ham, poultry and pork chops/roasts.
  • Marinades: use maple syrup instead of honey or other sweetener.

     
    Beverages

  • Cocktails: Make a Maple Martini (add a teaspoon or more to the vodka/gin and vermouth) and other cocktails (here’s a fig and maple cocktail recipe).
  • Cold drinks: sweeten iced tea and lemonade.
  • Hot Drinks: sweeten tea and hot chocolate.
  • Shakes: Blend 1 cup vanilla ice cream with 1/4 cup milk and 2 tablespoons syrup.
  •  

    Drizzle maple syrup on sharp cheeses. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

     

    Desserts

  • As a syrup on ice cream or rice pudding
  • In baked apples (just fill the centers of cored apples and bake)
  • To sweeten sautéed apples or apple pie
  • To replace some of the sugar in pecan pie and gingerbread cookies
  •  
    GRADES OF MAPLE SYRUP
    More than a few people are confused by the various types of maple syrup: grade A or B, light, medium or dark amber, etc. But once you see the explanation in print, it’s easy to understand.

    Here are the different grades of maple syrup.

     

    RECIPE: EASY MAPLE SOUFFLÉ

    Ingredients For 4 Individual Ramekins

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (try Grade A Dark Amber)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400° F. Separate egg whites and yolks.

    2. WHISK together egg yolks and maple syrup in a small bowl.

    3. BEAT egg whites in a stainless steel bowl, until soft peaks form.

    4. FOLD the maple syrup mixture into the whipped egg whites. Pour into four ramekins and place ramekins on a baking sheet.

    4. PLACE baking sheet in the oven and immediately turn temperature to 375°F. Bake for 10 minutes, or until puffed up.

    Recipe courtesy PureCanadaMaple.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Creme Honey

    Like honey but not the dripping and sticky mess?

    Try creme honey. It’s in a semi-solid state and as spreadable as butter. In many countries around the world, it’s preferred to the liquid/syrup form of honey (see the different types of honey).

    Creme honey—also known as churned honey, creamed honey, cremed honey, honey fondant, sugared honey, spun honey and whipped honey—is brought to market in a finely crystallized state. It can be made from any honey varietal or blend, and can also be flavored. (We particularly like the flavored creme honeys from Honey Ridge Farm, available in apricot and raspberry).

    Enjoy it drip-free on:

  • Toast, scones, biscuits and other breads
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Sandwiches (try peanut butter and honey)
  • Fruit—apple, banana or pear slices
  •  

    Creme honey doesn’t drip. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    HOW CREME HONEY IS MADE

    While all honey will crystallize over time, creme honey is intentionally crystallized via a controlled process so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter.

    The method to produce creme honey was patented in 1935. Previously processed creamed honey is added to pasteurized liquid honey and rested at a controlled temperature for a week, until the entire batch crystallizes.

     

    Creme honey is also available in fruit flavors. Photo courtesy River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    FOOD TRIVIA: CREME VS. CREAM

    What’s the difference between creme and cream? Why is it creme honey instead of cream honey?

    Crème, pronounced KREHM, is the French word for cream (the word for honey is miel, pronounced mee-EL).

    In America, French recipes were served at the tables of the wealthy, many of whom knew how to pronounce French properly.

    As these recipes entered the mainstream, people who did not know French began to pronounce crème as cream. Some people dispensed with the accent mark, to provide a mashup of French and English, and the industry has adopted crème or creme. If you were to write “cream honey,” you would not be incorrect.

    September is National Honey Month. Celebrate with creme honey.

     

     
    MORE ABOUT HONEY

    Check out our Honey Section for the history of honey, varietal honeys, food and honey pairings, recipes, trivia and everything you need for a honey education.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Organic Honey From Whole Foods Markets

    September is National Honey Month, a good reason to focus on our favorite ways to use honey.

    Even if you’re not Jewish, you can start this week with a Rosh Hashanah tradition:

    Celebrate the Jewish New Year with a traditional snack of apples and honey. The custom ushers in a sweet new year.

    We never thought to dip apples and honey until we were invited to our neighbors’ home one Rosh Hashanah 10 years ago. It’s become a favorite treat.

    TIP: Instead of placing the honey into a small dish for dipping, as in the photo, think of hollowing out a large apple and placing it, filled with honey, in the center of a plate of apple slices.

    We recently discovered that there’s a special prayer to recite before the honey and apples are consumed. THE NIBBLE doesn’t publish religious content, but we were so charmed by the thought of a prayer of thanks for honey and apples that we couldn’t resist:

     

    Honey and apples are a Rosh Hashanah tradition. Photo courtesy Voices-Magazine.Blogspot.com.

     

  • Recite the first part of the prayer: Blessed are you Lord, our God, Ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the tree. (In Hebrew: Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, Borai p’ree ha’aritz.)
  • Take a bite of an apple slice dipped in honey.
  • Recite the second part of the prayer: May it be Your will, Adonai, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You renew for us a good and sweet year. (In Hebrew: Y’hee ratzon mee-l’fanekha, Adonai Elohaynu v’elohey avoteynu sh’tichadeish aleinu shanah tovah um’tuqah.
  • Enjoy the rest of the apples and honey.
  •  

    The new 365 Organic Mountain Forest Honey
    line. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.

     

    CERTIFIED ORGANIC HONEY FROM WHOLE FOODS

    Just in time for fall apple-dipping, Whole Foods Market has introduced 365 Everyday Value Mountain Forest Honey, U.S. Grade A in four varieties:

  • Light Amber
  • Amber
  • Raw Honey
  • White Raw Honey
  •  
    Organic honey is made from the nectar of plants in fields that have not been treated with chemical pesticide. The fields must be pesticide-free for 20 miles in every direction of the beehives.

     

    In addition to organic certification, the honeys are also Whole Trade, a certification similar to Fair Trade. It ensures that the products were produced in a way that ensures fair prices to producers, safe and healthy working conditions for farm workers and environmentally-friendly production. (More about Fair Trade and similar certifying organizations).

    RECIPES WITH HONEY

    Try honey in these delicious recipes from Whole Foods:

  • Honey Lime Salmon Kabobs
  • Honey Mustard Coleslaw
  • Baklava With Honey Syrup
  •  
    MORE BUZZ ABOUT HONEY

    Here’s everything you need to know about honey: types, storing and using, pairing, trivia, history, and more recipes.

    Have a sweet September.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey & Nuts Spread & Topping

    Homemade honey with nuts. Photo courtesy
    AppleTurnover.tv.

     

    Honey Nuts Cheerios, Chex, Shredded Wheat and Special K; honey nut peanut butter and honey-roasted nuts: Honey and nuts are a natural pairing.

    If you’ve got nuts and honey, you can take the duo one step further:

    Combine them into a delicious bread spread and dessert topping, as people in Greece, Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean have been doing for thousands of years.

    You can find jars of honey with nuts at stores that specialize in Greek and Italian foods, or in cheese shops. They are lovely gifts and stocking stuffers.

    RECIPE: NUTS & HONEY

    Ingredients

  • Any honey*
  • Any nuts*
  • Glass jar†
  •  
    *Quantities depend on how much you are making and the capacity of the jar(s). While the photo above is more than half nuts, think of using 2/3 honey to 1/3 nuts—or even 1/4 nuts, if you want just a little. While whole nuts look prettier, they are not as spreadable. So if your goal is to make a bread spread rather than a dessert topping, consider chopping large nuts.

    †If you’re making this for home use, you can recycle an empty jar. If it’s for a gift, look for a prettier jar.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST nuts in a hot, dry pan, keeping them moving until the aroma wafts up (how to toast nuts). Cool.

    2. LAYER the nuts and honey in a clean jar. The nuts may migrate to the top of the jar, but you can easily stir them prior to use.
     

    VARIATIONS

    If you like the combination, try different variations: sage honey with walnuts, orange blossom honey with almonds, and so on.

     

    Or buy a jar! Photo courtesy Moon Shine Trading Company.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY HONEY AND NUTS

  • As a bread spread
  • As a cheeses condiment
  • As a dip for pretzels, baby carrots, etc.
  • As a fruit topper
  • On ice cream and loaf cakes
  • On pancakes, waffles and French toast
  • Straight from the jar, on a spoon
  •  
    How would you use honey and nuts?
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sugar Substitutions

    Try something from this list instead of sugar.
    Photo courtesy Domino Foods.

     

    Don’t want refined sugar in your recipe? Here are substitutes for 1/2 cup sugar:

  • Agave syrup: 1/3 cup
  • Barley malt extract: 1-1/2 cups
  • Carrot juice: 1/2 cup
  • Dried fruit purée: 1-1/4 cups
  • Fruit: 2 cups
  • Fruit juice: 1/2 cup
  • Fruit juice concentrate: 1/2 cup
  • Unsweetened frozen juice concentrate: 1/2 cup
  • Honey: 1/2 cup
  • Maple syrup: 1/2 cup
  • Molasses: 2/3 cup
  • Rice syrup: 1-1/4 cups
  •  

    Remember to decrease or increase the amount of liquid or flour in the recipe, according to the liquid content of the sweetener.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Baking With Honey

    If you love to bake but want to use less refined sugar, consider honey as a substitute. Here are tips on cooking with honey from Honey.com, the website of the National Honey Board, where you can find every type of recipe plus beekeepers in your area:

    SUBSTITUTING HONEY IN BAKING

    Honey helps enhance browning, so it creates beautifully browned baked goods. The extra body provided by honey adds shape to cakes, pastries and other desserts. If you need to prepare baked goods in advance, honey gives them that “bakery fresh” taste, even days later.

  • Substitute honey for up to one-half of the sugar.
  • For easy removal when measuring honey, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before adding honey.
  • Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used in baked goods.
  • Add about ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used in baked goods.
  • You’ll need to increase beating time and speed, since it takes more vigorous beating to achieve the correct texture with honey.
  •  

    Reach for the honey instead of the sugar. Photo courtesy Michael S. Richter | Morguefile.

  • Reduce oven temperatures by 25°F to prevent over-browning of baked goods.
  •  
    SELECTING HONEY FOR BAKING & COOKING

  • Select a mild, paler honey, such as clover, when delicate flavors predominate—baked goods, glazed vegetables, and subtle fruits like bananas, for example.
  • Select stronger, amber-colored honeys to accompany stronger flavors, such as peanut butter, meats and strong cheeses.
  •  

    Seabass with Aji Chile Honey Marinade.
    Photo courtesy Honey.com. Here‘a the recipe.

     

    GREAT HONEY COMBINATIONS

  • FRUIT: The combination of sweet fruits and honey brings out the best flavors of each. Apple slices dipped in honey is a luscious snack. Try sliced bananas, hazelnut spread and honey on toast or graham crackers for a tasty blend of flavors and textures.
  • ICE CREAM: Honey acts as an anti-freeze, which makes the ice cream’s consistency smoother and protects against crystallization. Here’s a recipe for peach ice cream with honey.
  • SALTY SNACKS: The combination of salt and sweet is a palate pleaser. We love dipping pretzels into honey, and making honey Cornflakes clusters instead of Rice Krispies treats.
  • CANDIED BACON: This recent craze is a special treat, but here‘s a tip: When making honey-candied bacon, the honey should be added to the bacon strips only after they have been cooked part of the way through. If the honey is added too soon, the honey will caramelize too quickly and the bacon will burn.
  • BREAD: Honey is a delicious bread spread instead of jam. Honey with buttermilk biscuits can’t be beat.
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  • SALAD DRESSING: If you like sweetness in your salad dressing, add a half teaspoon of honey. It acts as a stabilizer, too, so the vinaigrette won’t separate.
     
    MORE WAYS TO USE HONEY

    From appetizers and main dishes to sauces and sides, anywhere a sweetener is used you can substitute honey. We love it as a meat glaze and in marinades. Honey enhances browning and crisping, providing a more beautiful roast.

    Check out the honey-accented recipes at Honey.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Soften Brown Sugar ~ Fast!

    Even though we stored our brown sugar in a supposedly airtight glass canister, it invariably became rock-hard in a few weeks, its natural high level of moisture evaporating into…well, who knows where it went?

    The old “Hints From Heloise” on how to soften brown sugar don’t work if you’re in a hurry. They include putting slices of apple or a slice of fresh bread into the airtight container. In a day or so, the moisture from the apple or bread will infuse into the sugar and soften it.

    But if you discover, as you’re making a recipe, that your brown sugar is one big hard lump, you need a fast solution.

     

    This simple gadget keeps brown sugar soft. Photo courtesy Improvements.

     
    Our friend Rose offered the solution: Place the brown sugar in a plastic bag (or in a microwavable container) with moist paper towel and microwave it for 20-30 seconds. Voilà, soft brown sugar.

    We subsequently came across these Terra Cotta Brown Sugar Disks. Soak a disk in water for 15 minutes, then add it to the container of brown sugar. The terra cotta (which is porous, unglazed baked clay) holds moisture, and releases it slowly to keep brown sugar or other foods moist for weeks.

    You can pick up a set of Terra Cotta Brown Sugar Disks ($8.99 for three) and give the other two to friends.

    Should you happen to have a small piece of terra cotta hanging around, you can try it first. We used a shard from a broken flower pot, wrapping it in cheesecloth to ensure that none of the broken surface would come into contact with the sugar.

      

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