Considering that I have a serious sweet tooth, it is pretty funny that I actually do not really like honey. I have more of an affinity towards it now than I did as a child, but I still do not really love the stuff. During Rosh Hashanah dinner as all my friends and family were pouring gobs of honey all over their apples I would dab the smallest ritualistic amount on my apple. Actually, I still do that to this day.
For the most part, I find the taste to be really floral and overpowering. Being that I feel this way, most people would be surprised that I use honey all the time. Honey is actually rich in antioxidants and can be a great natural sweetener. For me the trick is to use enough for what I am making to be sweet, but not really taste too much like honey. I often drizzle it over plain yogurt (which really needs a bit of sweetness) with fruit and granola. I use a bit of it to sweeten my tea and will often substitute it for sugar in baking. I also really like to use it in vinaigrettes as I find it gives a nice thickness to the dressing.
The one exception to my rule is buckwheat honey. I love this stuff! It is very rich in antioxidants and has an earthy, almost molasses taste. In fact, it tastes nothing like the traditional honey which is probably why I like it so much. It is so dark and rich that it actually looks like chocolate syrup. It can be difficult to find as it is not available in all grocery stores. You can normally find it in a health food store (I buy mine at Whole Foods) or it is easily found online. Trust me when I tell you it is worth it!
There are pleanty of honeys in your regular grocery store for a reasonable price. There is clover honey, wildflower honey, orange blossom honey to name a few. The type is named for the nectar that the bees were drinking when they produced the honey. Honey is the star of my Stewed Apples A La Mode Drizzled with Buckwheat Honey. It is a great dessert for any time of the year and nicely highlights the use of honey as a natural sweetener and buckwheat honey as a delicious garnish.
For all of you who will be celebrating the holiday of Rosh Hashanah and dipping your apples in honey next week, I wish you a happy, sweet and prosperous new year! L’shana Tova!