Honey, I’m Home

This post is linked to Friday Foodie Fix–Honey.

Our family keeps bees and we belong to a regional beekeepers’ association. My husband and his mother sometimes attend the monthly meetings, but not often because they are held a good distance away from where we live. For us, the best part of belonging to the group by far is getting its monthly newsletters. My favorite part of the newsletters (not surprisingly) is the recipes. (The “What’s Blooming?” section usually makes me smile, too … the January listing: “rain—for the trees and bee plants; snowballs would be nice; house plants; and icicles.”)

Honey

We love using honey from our bees, so when we can incorporate it in recipes—it’s a lovely, sweet bonus. ;-) This month’s newsletter recipes were Spaghetti Sauce and Honey Salad Dressing, both made from naturally gluten-free ingredients—so gfe! Can’t wait to try them, however, it was one from last month that came to mind when I finally settled down this evening.

It had rained endlessly all day and the promised high of 50-degrees never materialized. It was in the lower 30s when I left home and the same when I returned. At work, I had not made much headway on a work assignment with a rapidly approaching deadline and attendance at a meeting on Friday was encouraged … Friday is my usual day off. Outings to attend other meetings, a slow-to-open umbrella, and standing water in our office parking lot had left me chilled to the bone. So I was a bit grumpy and looking for warmth and comfort when I finally hit home. I changed into comfy, warm clothes, then added wood to the woodstove and cranked it up. I chatted with my husband a little before he left for a weekly visit with a cousin. While my work decompression routine continued, our son packed up his stuff, hugged and kissed me good-bye, and headed out the door to return to college.

Feeling a bit of melancholy on top of some grumpiness, I found the recipe for Honey Hot Chocolate on the top of my “must try” recipe heap. While the syrup mixture was warming on the stove, I located the friendly snowmen mug that had beckoned to me at the thrift store right before Christmas. The recipe made four servings, but I made just one and filled my mug. The snowmen smiled broadly at me and I started feeling better.

hotcocoa3

The hot chocolate took little time to make and was very satisfying. It’s quite a nice balance of chocolate and honey—whichever variation you make (explained in the recipe below).  Either way it’s not heavy, as homemade hot chocolate sometimes can be. Usually, I alternate adding additional cocoa and sugar … trying to find just that perfect combination. With this recipe, that kind of tweaking is unnecessary—the hot chocolate is “just right” as it is.

Honey Hot Chocolate

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)

½ cup honey (local, raw/unpasteurized, if available)

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

½ cup water (optional; you can leave out the water or only add a tiny amount used to clean out your measuring cup … thanks to Nance for the suggestion on eliminating the water for a thicker version; water might be necessary when using coconut milk though)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups hot milk (I used reduced fat; full-fat coconut milk also works)

Directions: In small saucepan, combine honey, cocoa powder, and water (if used); mix well. Cook over low heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract. Set aside until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, heat milk (saucepan or microwave). Stir chocolate syrup mixture into hot milk.

Tips: Chocolate syrup may be prepared in advance and stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. For single serving of hot chocolate, stir ¼ cup chocolate syrup into ¾ cup hot milk.

Shirley’s Notes: Many believe that local honey provides some relief against allergies. Pasteurization of honey is not needed; this heating just allows the honey to be processed more quickly as honey flows more readily when heated. However, many (myself included) maintain that the flavor for pasteurized honey is less appealing than that of non-pasteurized honey. The CDC recommends that children younger than 1 year of age should not be given honey.  

From member-submitted recipes at the National Honey Board

Additional note: Check out other wonderful recipes using non-refined sweeteners at The Nourishing Gourmet where Kimi Harris is hosting the Chocolate Carnival.

Shirley

Not just gf, but gfe!

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Comments

23 Responses to “Honey, I’m Home”

  1. Jennifer Smith on January 8th, 2009 3:36 pm

    Sounds yummy, except for the milk! I have done hot chocolate with unsweetend almond milk, and it is quite good. GFCF, gluten free casein free, what’s next????

  2. noble pig on January 8th, 2009 6:27 pm

    I never would have thought to put honey in hot chocolate, very interesting!

  3. Shirley on January 9th, 2009 9:16 am

    Jennifer-You can be one of our GCGF contributors … telling us how to easily make recipes CF or expand upon my comments on making a recipe CF-just like you did here! Do you make your own almond milk? If so, could you share that info here … or what kind you purchase. Thanks so much!

    noble pig–I hope you’ll try it. I think you’ll like the taste very much. :-)

  4. H.Peter on January 9th, 2009 12:58 pm

    I grew up on honey. Mostly dark amber colored pine honey from the forests around the village.
    Daily breakfast.

    It is amazing how honey from region to region can taste very very distinctly different.

    Here in Canada I purchased some pine honey from Turkey, though same in color, the flavor was much stronger.

  5. Kay Niedenthal on January 9th, 2009 5:14 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    I’m having “bee envy!” I eat a lot of honey. My grandpa had bee hives and I loved the early dark honey from tulip tree blooms.

    I was tempted to sign up for a beekeeper class offered locally. But I need to get ready for my chickens (coming in May!) They will probably be enough of a challenge.

  6. Shirley on January 10th, 2009 11:48 am

    H. Peter–We always like to sample local honey when visiting different areas, and I agree the differences in taste can be dramatic. I don’t have a sense for what pine honey tastes like at all. Our honey is light and mild most years. Unlike “professional” beekeepers, we don’t move our hives to different areas to ensure we get honey from a particular flower. Ours is a lovely blend, but it changes slightly from year to year according to what is blooming the most.

    Kay–LOL “bee envy” … I am sharing that with my husband. He’ll get a chuckle out of it! Ah, poplar honey (a.k.a. tulip tree or tulip poplar) … that is VERY good, too. (The only bad honey is uncapped honey … taken before the bees have finished their work.) May will be here before we know it. Looking forward to hearing about your chicken experience! Several members of my husband’s family raise chickens and there always fun tales as well as FABULOUS eggs, of course.

  7. Nance on January 10th, 2009 2:46 pm

    Hey, Shirley, is the water really necessary? I like thicker hot cocoa, and maybe leaving it out won’t matter much.

  8. Shirley on January 10th, 2009 4:25 pm

    Nance–I was surprised at water being an ingredient as well. I did like how it turned it though. However, since I just came in from more rain and cold and chocolate is calling my name, I think there’s only one thing to do–test per your query. Besides, it’s my job to adequately research recipe questions and respond to you, my dear readers. Will be back as soon as I can whip up a new cup. With plans for our upcoming Valentine’s Day party running through my mind (appetizer recipes, GFE party protocol, etc.), I think I’ll use the larger mug covered with multi-colored hearts and LOVE emblazoned across the top. So I’ll just halve the recipe this time, sans H2O. I’ll report back promptly. ;-)

  9. Shirley on January 10th, 2009 4:59 pm

    Nance–Reporting back … results: in one word, outstanding! I wouldn’t say it’s tremendously thicker, but the cocoa packs more of a punch (which can never be a bad thing in my book). :-) I did add a very small amount of water to help remove the honey from the measuring cup, plus I don’t really like heating honey “directly” because I think it changes it a bit and makes it lose some of its natural flavor (part of my objection to pasteurization). You’ve improved the recipe, Nance! I will update the recipe with that note. Thanks!

  10. glutenfreeforgood on January 11th, 2009 9:04 pm

    Shirley,

    Wow, you have bees?! I’m impressed. You lucky girl, the honey must be divine. I use light coconut milk in my hot cocoa. And a touch of honey and a bit of cinnamon.

    I might have to go make myself some right now. Sounds to good just to think about.

    :-)

    Melissa

  11. Shirley on January 11th, 2009 10:01 pm

    Melissa– :-) … yes, the honey is divine! Bees are such amazing creatures. I’ve been trying to greatly reduce my intake of refined sugar so I’ve used more honey than ever for sweetening the last several months. I find that if I consume foods sweetened with honey, I am satisfied and don’t want more, more, more. LOL

    Your recipe for hot cocoa sounds very nice. I need to determine if I have any issues with coconut milk. (I just found out I can’t tolerate coconut oil.) Do you buy your coconut milk in large quantities? I’ve only seen small cans in the store. Furthermore, now that I recall, it all contains guar gum and I don’t do well with that either. Anyway, hope you made some cocoa and enjoyed it!

  12. glutenfreeforgood on January 12th, 2009 7:52 am

    Shirley,

    Yes, most (all?) coconut milks contain some sort of “gum” in small amounts. I buy the organic version, either by the case or when it’s on sale to get a discount. I use organic brown rice milk in my baking, cooking, or on cereal as well. The coconut milk is only for certain things. There’s a coconut sugar available as well.

    As for your bees — talk about eating LOCAL! Good for you. I’m fascinated.

    Also, thanks SO much for the comment about grains and dogs. I really appreciate you adding that. I should have included it to begin with. I actually have that info on my “About” page — briefly mentioned, but just failed to include it on this post.

    Thanks! You’re a good gluten-free girlfriend!

  13. Shirley on January 12th, 2009 1:15 pm

    I’ve looked online before for the coconut milk without guar gum, but just looked again. I see statements on a mothering forum that Trader Joe’s own brand and Natural Value coconut milk do not contain guar gum. The nearest Trader Joe’s is an hour and half away from me, but, surprisingly, the Natural Value brand is carried by both a grocery store and a health food store in “town” (a half hour away). So I’ll pick up some and see how I do with it. :-)

    I think I may have been taking our bees for granted … they do work so hard for us to benefit from their efforts I made some out-of-this-world wassail in November and December using honey (recipe from Stephanie’s crockpotting blog, http://crockpot365.blogspot.com). As I’ve told others, my main responsibility with our honey is ordering the supplies, making mite prevention “patties,” bottling the honey, and cooking with it. My husband does everything else. (Don’t ask me about the time in my husband’s novice days of beekeeping (independent from this father’s supervision for the first time) that he forgot to smoke the hive and came into the house covered with bees … who then immediately moved to me!)

    You’re quite welcome re: the comment on your latest post on your beloved Fairbanks II and foods dogs can’t eat safely. We have to spread the word on gluten affecting our pets just as much and take care of our faithful companions!

    LOL … you’re welcome and back at you … the value of comments can’t be underestimated, because we all can’t remember everything when we post an entry!

  14. glutenfreeforgood on January 14th, 2009 3:38 pm

    Yes, it’s nice to have “back-up” when you need it! We’re in this together.
    :-)
    Melissa

  15. glutenfreewholefoods on January 20th, 2009 11:26 pm

    I make hot chocolate too with honey – a local raw honey I buy from the Farmer’s Market here in Bellingham, WA. I use organic almond milk, Dagoba organic cocoa powder (which is GF), vanilla, and honey. Mmm, its my favorite on a chilly rainy day.

    -Ali :)

  16. Shirley on January 21st, 2009 12:21 am

    Ali–Everyone raves over the Dagoba organic cocoa powder. I really must get some soon. It’s definitely cold enough here for some more honey hot chocolate. Maybe tomorrow … must turn in now. ;-) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I hope everyone checks out your blog, especially your recent post on Vit D!

    Best,
    Shirley

  17. Kelly on January 24th, 2009 4:00 pm

    I’ve been meaning to tell you my hubby is crazy for bees! He may have his own hive at our neighbors down the street this year :-) She already has two of her own. Go honey bees!

  18. Shirley on January 24th, 2009 5:06 pm

    Kelly–Woohoo for hubby!! We can’t have enough folks keeping honeybees—they need our help in the worst way these days. And, that will be great if he works with your neighbor … it really makes it easier starting out to have someone else leading the way. My husband worked with his dad for several years before we had our own hives. I am so excited—please keep me posted. I know you’ll make good use of that divine honey when you finally have your own (that will take a good while) or you get some from the neighbor’s hives for helping her. I am getting ready to serve some honey this evening for dipping homemade GF chicken nuggets (so easy, I’ll post that recipe soon). Yum. Thanks so much for telling me the great news! Shirley

  19. Rebecca on December 1st, 2012 11:08 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that people are still finding this post. :) We have eliminated most refined sugar over the past couple years. I started buying raw honey in 5 gallon buckets! I found your recipe last winter and made it several times. I came looking for it again this week, for cocoa to take with us as we cut down a Christmas tree. I’ll be making it for friends tomorrow, served with homemade honey marshmallows (which are also fantastic)! http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2011/08/fluffy-honey-sweetened-homemade-marshmallows.html

    • Shirley on December 2nd, 2012 11:30 am

      Hi Rebecca–Welcome to gfe! :-) Yippee on folks like you still finding this recipe and enjoying it! :-) Love, love honey for natural sweetening! And I also love that you are making this cocoa to take along for your Christmas tree cutting adventure and other gatherings. I’m sure that this cocoa is even better when Kimi’s homemade honey marshmallows are involved. ;-)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Merry Christmas!
      Shirley

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