I cannot recall the first time I stirred the zest of an orange into a few spoons of honey. Perhaps it was in the period that I was experimenting with the elements of Sicilian pastries. Unable to find candied orange peel to mix through the ricotta and apricot filling for a tart, I put some orange zest into a jar of honey, imagining it to be a compromise. It turned out to be the contrary. The orange zest altered the color of the honey to a deep sienna almost immediately, infusing it with its vivid color. The sweet oils of the orange mingled through the honey, changing a primarily sweet flavor into a perfumed syrup. A few hours later the zest had changed consistency, turning into a clutter of threads. When left on the cupboard shelf, I discovered that the orange in the honey had caramelized completely. This made the simple combination of two ingredients even more fascinating in my mind. It meant that the orange zest could be used separately from the honey itself. Drizzled together over a bowl of raspberries or shavings of a crisp apple, orange-infused honey makes dessert appear to be a great effort, while it simply isn’t. A cupboard essential it is.
- the zest of four oranges
- 250 grams of honey
Scrub the oranges prior to zesting them. Stir the zest through the honey and close the jar tightly with a lid. The orange-infused honey is ready for use within the hour. It can be kept for up to three months.
♦ Suggested combinations
Mix the honey through yoghurt for breakfast. Use it as a glaze over a home-baked cake. Drizzle the honey over pistachio nuts and bake them 5 minutes at 175 degrees on baking paper. Let them cool before eating the pistachios with a sheep’s-milk robiola served with apricots soaked in Passito wine. Serve this trio as a cheese platter with a glass of Prosecco. In the midst of summer, serve fresh figs cut in half, drizzled with orange-honey on a pristine ceramic platter.
Add the tiniest bit of dried lavender from your garden to make a lavender-orange-honey. Seville orange zest while bitter makes for an interesting variation on this theme. While thinking about flowers, imagine rose petals suspended in another jar of honey on the shelf, next to the essential orange-honey.