If there’s one ingredient that’s a synonym for pure, unadulterated sweetness, it’s honey. Hot honey seems to have come along at a time when Americans, known for their culinary “more is more” philosophy, have decided to amplify their sugar-loving tendencies by dialing up the heat on all that sweetness.
These days, honey is spicing things up in a pretty serious way. Hot honey, an infusion of chiles into the sticky sweetener, has been getting drizzled on fried chicken, cheese plates and ice cream, and it’s being stirred into all kinds of drinks, from milkshakes to cocktails.
Born in a pizzeria
The first appearance of hot honey was at Paulie Gee’s pizzeria in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. Michael Kurtz, a new pizza apprentice, remembered the chili pepper-infused honey he had enjoyed while living in Brazil. He tried it on one of the pizzas, and the rest is sweet-hot history. Kurtz eventually went on to found his own company, Mike’s Hot Honey. It’s made with wildflower honey and Brazilian chili peppers, and Kurtz says it’s the world’s most versatile condiment.
A great idea will naturally attract some competition, and the sector now includes MixedMade’s Bees Knees, a start-up company launched by Morgen Newman and Casey Elsass in Bushwick, Brooklyn (there’s something about Brooklyn and hot honey, right?). Their product combines sweet honey from the Hudson Valley with a spicy mix of chile peppers. They even have a maple syrup version, Trees Knees.
How to use it
While the bottled products are great, you can easily whip up a batch in your own kitchen (see recipe below). Epicurious says it’s great on roasted vegetables, as a protein marinade, drizzled over fried chicken, whisked into dressings, paired with winter squash or as a sauce for fruit desserts.
Mike’s Hot Honey claims it can be enjoyed all day long, offering several meal suggestions. For breakfast, try yogurt topped with granola, berries and hot honey; lunch can be roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and hot honey; and dinner is pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and hot honey. Dessert? How about a sundae of vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, and a hot honey drizzle?