Flavor of the week: Honey and vanilla!

There is almost nothing more basic in the world of confections and desserts as honey and as vanilla. However, putting these two things together really makes an amazing splash of not just flavor but extraordinary fragrance. I’m paying tribute to honey and vanilla this week, because I feel that it doesn’t get the attention that perhaps it should. It’s also a combo that is mild enough to pair well with other flavors, but flavorful on itself alone to make a delighted reaction on its consumer. So, here’s to you honey & vanilla. I salute you!

*Make sure to check different local honeys at your farmers market. They can vary in flavor and body considerably depending on the flowers they are extracted from. Also try using whole vanilla bean whenever possible for even more flavor and aroma. You can also use Tahitian vanilla instead of the widely popular Madagascar Bourbon for lighter floral notes.

Honey & Vanilla American-style buttercream frosting

1 Cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temp.

3 1/2 – 4 Cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar

2-4 Tablespoons milk (optional)

1 vanilla bean, split

1/2 C honey

Put the split vanilla bean on a small cutting board. Take a paring knife and scrape out the seeds, which should look like a black paste. Put seeds aside. You can use the empty pods to make vanilla sugar. Just place in a container of granulated sugar.

Place softened butter in mixer. Cream the butter. Add the vanilla seed paste. Mix until well-blended. Next add the honey. Gradually add the confectioners. Add enough to reach the desired consistency and sweetness. If it is stiffer than you like, add in a little bit of milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Wrap and chill. This buttercream is best when aged at least one day to allow for the vanilla flavor to fully permeate the buttercream.

The buttercream is great paired with almost anything. Try it with spice cake, apple cake, or use it in place of plain vanilla buttercream.

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