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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: 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.
  •  

  • 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.

      

  • Comments

    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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hey Shuga! Organic Sugar Cane Syrup & Stevia Syrup

    What if there were a sweetener that was all natural, organic and delicious? Lower in calories? Better for you? And as a bonus, packaged in a fun enough way to be giftable?

    Refined sugars (such as table sugar) are stripped of nutrients; most noncaloric sweeteners are artificial. Sugar isn’t all that convenient when you’re trying to get it to dissolve in iced coffee, iced tea or lemonade.

    One solution: liquid cane sugar and liquid stevia dissolve easily and are available in natural food stores. But one family business is treating them with imagination and sass. We bought quite a few bottles for ourselves and for holiday gifts.

    The Hey Shuga! line of all natural, organic liquid sweeteners dissolve instantly in cold beverages and cocktails, and are equally delicious in hot beverages, as topping for cereal and fruit, in baking and glazing.

    The two initial products are:

     

    Lil’ Shuga liquid stevia-cane sugar blend and Hey Shuga! liquid cane sugar. Photo courtesy Hey Shuga!

     

  • Hey Shuga! is a flavorful organic sugar cane syrup, 20 calories per teaspoon.
  • Lil’ Shuga! cuts calories by blending sugar with noncaloric stevia, 15 calories per teaspoon. However, since stevia makes the blend much sweeter than sugar, you use 1/3 as much: 5 calories’ worth.
  •  
    Both are alternatives to agave. corn syrup/golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, refined white sugar and conventional stevia. Lil’ Suga! has so few calories, you can use it instead of noncaloric sweeteners.

    Both have a delicious cane sugar taste, nothing artificial and are USDA organic certified, GMO free, gluten free and kosher certified by SKS.

    The line expects to expand next year to all-natural Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Maple and Vanilla flavors.

    You can purchase them on Amazon or on the HeyShuga.com website, which sells:

  • Hey Shuga! 12-ounce bottle, $7.99; case of 12, $80.000 ($6.66/bottle)
  • Lil’ Shuga! 8.5-ounce bottle, $9.99; case of 12, $94.00 ($7.83/bottle)
  •  
    There are also tall bottles, glamorous for gifting:

  • Hey Shuga! 33.8-ounce bottle, $20.00
  • Lil’ Shuga! 23.7-ounce bottle, $24.00
  •  

    Check out all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bread Spread ~ Honey & Fromage Blanc

    Drizzle with honey: It’s heavenly. Photo
    courtesy Bee Raw Honey.

     

    You may go bonkers for a bagel or crazy for a croissant. But let us suggest another breakfast bread:

    Raisin bread, regular or toasted. It’s delicious plain, with butter or in this killer combination from Bee Raw Honey:

    Fromage blanc and apple slices on raisin bread, drizzled with basswood honey.

    You can vary the varietal and the type of honey, the spread (butter, crème fraîche, fresh goat cheese, Greek yogurt, quark).

    It’s special occasion breakfast bread.

     
    Bee Raw Honey’s single-varietal American honeys make memorable gifts. Honeys are not only regional, they’re also seasonal. Fall varietals include cranberry honey and wild black sage honey, perfect for house gifts and holiday gifts. Find out more at BeeRaw.com.

     

    FROMAGE BLANC: A GREAT “FIND”

    Fromage blanc is a type of fresh cream cheese—but not in the manner of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Depending on the manufacturer, it can be very similar to both crème fraîche and quark.

    How soft, how tangy a flavor a cheese has, and other factors are production decisions. Fromage blanc may or may not be low in fat and calories. Because there is no federal standard of identity in the U.S., one manufacturer’s fromage blanc could be another’s quark (see our article on fresh cheeses).

    The fromage blanc from Vermont Creamery, for example, is extremely soft, with the consistency of sour cream and a similar tang. It is fat free, protein-packed and has a lower calorie count than other brands. The entire eight-ounce container has just 120 calories. Take that, sour cream!

    In France, fromage blanc is often eaten with fruit and sugar as a dessert. It is also very popular in cooking because it heats without separating.

    Pick some up during your next trip to the market.

     

    This fromage blanc is fat-free and low calorie. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Our Valentine Gift To You

    How many different types of sugar have you
    had? Check them out in our Sugar Glossary.

     

    Here’s something sweet for Valentine’s Day: THE NIBBLE’s Sugar Glossary, featuring all types of sweeteners, in a downloadable PDF.

    What’s the difference between demerara and turbinado sugars? Corn syrup and golden syrup? Crystallized sugar and rock candy?

    You’ll find just about every type of sugar and sweetener, and hopefully will be inspired to use them in your recipes.

    The Sugar Glossary is one of our 80+ food glossaries. Take a look at the others and let us know the next glossary you’d like to be downloadable. (Use the Contact Us link at the top of the page).

    We’re always updating our glossaries as we come across new information. For the latest version of the Sugar Glossary, see the online article.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese And Honey For Dessert

    A cheese plate with honeycomb. Photo
    courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Some of the most sophisticated diners don’t think of ending a meal with baked goods, ice cream, pudding or other sugary dessert. Instead, they prefer a plate of cheese.

    Available in every texture from soft and creamy to hard and grainy, an assortment of cheeses ends the meal with sophisticated flavors, and goes with the remaining wine.

    Cheese can be served with bread, crackers, fresh or dried fruits, nuts and other accompaniments (see our master list of cheese condiments and have fun pairing them with different cheeses).

    For a bit of dessert sweetness, cheese and honey are an excellent combination.

    Try honey with everything from mild, fresh goat cheeses, to bloomy-rind Brie and Camembert, to strong blue cheeses like Cabrales, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton, to aged Asiago, Gouda or Parmesan.

     

    USE GOOD HONEY

    Most of us already have honey in the kitchen. But think beyond generic* honey and look for sophisticated honey varieties.

  • Basswood, buckwheat, cranberry, orange blossom, raspberry, sage, saw palmetto and sourwood are just a few varietals that are as different in flavor as the cheeses they annoint. The honey carries the flavor of the plant from which the pollen was gathered.
  • There are also quite a few infused honeys: flavors added to the honey, from eucalyptus and orange to pear and truffle.
  • Serve the honey freestyle: drizzled on the plate, passed in the jar or a bowl, or as a slice of honeycomb, as shown in the photo.
  •  
    How many cheeses should you serve? Two to four varieties offer a nice contrast. If you only have one type of cheese, add more garnishes or serve it on a small plate of salad.

    And keep the slices small. Cheese has about 100 calories per ounce and it’s laden with cholesterol/saturated fat. It’s easy to polish off half a pound at a sitting. You’ll do your guests a favor by serving the cheese pre-plated instead of having them cut large slices for themselves.
     
    *Generic honey is generally imported from Argentina and China, where the goal is to provide sweetness. Flavor is secondary.

    HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HONEY?

  • History Of Honey
  • Honey Facts
  • Honey Trivia Quiz
  • Storing & Using Honey
  • Pairing Varietal Honeys With Food & Beverages
  • Types Of Honey
  •   

    Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Gourmet Coffee Syrup For Coffee Lovers

    These artisan coffee syrups are handmade to
    order. Photo courtesy Java & Co.

     

    People who enjoy a hit of flavored syrup in their coffee will love these handmade syrups from Java & Co.

    Made to order, the syrups begin when Java & Co. freshly roasts the coffee beans, from which they brew fresh coffee. The flavors of the coffee are infused into cane sugar syrup. That’s how different these syrups are from those available in coffee shops and supermarkets, which typically use off-the-shelf extracts to flavor their syrups.

    Add sweetness to your coffee, in five popular flavors:

  • Original: Colombian Coffee, the classic.
  • Original Dark: Epresso infusion, dark and smoky.
  • French Vanilla: French Vanilla coffee infusion, smooth and silky.
  • Java Nut: Hazelnut coffee infusion—rich and buttery.
  • TiRUMisu: Dark Jamaican rum is added to the coffee infusion for a dark, bold flavor.
  •  

    The elegant bottles of syrups are affordable:

  • One bottle in a drawstring bag, $16.00
  • One bottle in a gift crate, $19.00
  • Two bottles in a gift crate, $36.00
  •  
    More information or to purchase.
     
    The coffee syrups can be used for more than just coffee. Use them:

  • Atop the “breakfast group”: pancakes, waffles, French Toast, oatmeal and yogurt.
  • As a dessert syrup on bread pudding, other puddings, ice cream and tiramisu.
  • In beverages: cocktails (such as a coffee Martini) and with club soda to make coffee soda.
  • As a glaze for meat, salmon and other seafood, and vegetables; turkey and yams; in barbecue sauce.
  • With salads: In a vinaigrette, instead of honey; mixed with mayonnaise in chicken salad.
     
    The only limit is your imagination!

      

  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Fancy Sugar From Chambre De Sucre

    If you like to set a beautiful table, you need Chambre de Sucre. The company, whose name translates to “The Sugar Room,” makes the most beautiful artisan-crafted sugars we’ve seen.

    From orbs in white, pastels and brown demerara sugar, to rainbow and amber crystals, to flower-decorated rounds and squares, these sugars bring the wow factor to coffee and tea service.

    There are affordable sugars for everyone on your list: memorable gifts that make any special occasion more special.

    Anyone who entertains—or who likes beautiful things—will be enchanted by Chambre de Sucre. Read the full review.

    See all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.
     
     

     

    One of the 20 beautiful expressions of sugar
    from Chambre de Sucre. Photo courtesy
    Chambre de Sucre.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Real Maple Syrup

    With maple syrup, as with most things, you’ve got to pay attention to the details.

    The next time you drown your pancakes in sweet syrup, ask yourself what you’re pouring on that stack. Do you know the difference between maple syrup and pancake syrup?

    Many bottles of what appears to be maple syrup are simply bottles of corn syrup with maple flavoring—but the picture of syrup-doused pancakes on the label makes you think otherwise.

    The contents may be sweetly pleasing, but they’re not maple syrup. And the U.S. government won’t allow it to be called maple syrup—“pancake syrup,” “rich syrup” and other terms are devised by manufacturers.

    Here’s what’s in a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s:

     

    What’s that on your pancakes: artificially flavored corn syrup? Photo by Stuart Burford
    | IST.

     

    High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, molasses, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium hexametaphosphate, citric acid, caramel color and natural and artificial flavors. Ingredients are similar for Aunt Jemima, Hungry Jack and Log Cabin syrups.

    That’s quite far from natural maple syrup tapped from the tree!
     

    Take The Taste Test

    If you think you like commercial pancake syrups, try a side-by-side taste test. Buy a bottle of the real deal. The label will say 100% Pure Maple Syrup and there should be just one item on the ingredient list: maple syrup.

    And that maple syrup has wonderful uses, far beyond breakfast.

    WAYS TO USE REAL MAPLE SYRUP

    Breakfast

  • On oatmeal, crunchy cereal and biscuits
  •  
    Lunch & Dinner

  • Glaze chicken, duck, pork and salmon
  • Glaze a juicy baked ham
  • Glaze carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes
  • Drizzle on baked or mashed butternut squash
  • Add to vinaigrettes, marinades, barbecue sauces and chutneys
  • Add to baked beans
  • Sweeten applesauce
  •  
    Dessert

  • Use as a syrup on ice cream or rice pudding
  • Sweeten baked apples (just fill the centers of cored apples and bake)
  • Replace some of the sugar in pecan pie and gingerbread cookies
  • Pour onto a crunchy cereal
  •  

    Beverages

  • Sweeten iced tea and coffee
  • Sweeten hot chocolate
  • Make a maple martini
  •  
    RECIPE: MAPLE SYRUP WITH PORK

    Buy your favorite cut of pork: belly, loin, chop roast—there’s really no way to go wrong (see our Pork Cuts Glossary for inspiration).

    Slather that pork in maple syrup, and hit it generously with some kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Then roast it the same as you normally would (the lower and slower the better, in our opinion). Baste with syrup often, ideally using some of the maple-icious pan drippings.

    You can also reserve the drippings and blend them into mashed potatoes or polenta for a sweet spin on a favorite comfort food.

    From pancakes to pork chops, 100% real maple syrup makes all the difference.
     

    FOOD 101: DO YOU KNOW THE GRADES OF MAPLE SYRUP?

    What’s the difference between Grade A and Grade B; or Grade A Light Amber, A Medium Amber and A Dark Amber? It’s the strength of the flavor, with Grade B the most robust. Details.

      

    Comments

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