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Why Honey is the Perfect Sweetener for Dessert Lovers

Honey may not be our top-of-mind sweetener for baking and desserts. But what it does to desserts should pique every baker’s interest. With honey’s thick consistency and golden amber color, cakes take on a rich hue, acquire a moist texture, and a good bite. Honey makes short work of the caramelizing process, as it is already thick and gooey. Cookies and bars with honey are definitely chewier than conventional recipes. Taken in moderate amounts, honey, particularly the wild forest variety, is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It can boost energy, aid the digestive system, help relieve coughs and colds, and it even boasts wound healing and antioxidant properties. With honey’s many benefits, both health and culinary, going for it, it’s high time to make it an indispensable dessert ingredient.


Mini Honey Buns with Honey Caramel Sauce

Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup honey?
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon?
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar?
  • 2 squares frozen puff pastry, store bought, thawed in the refrigerator


  • 1/2 cup honey?
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to?400°F. Grease a regular 12-cup muffin pan.?

2. Mix butter, honey and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a bowl. Place a teaspoonful into each muffin cup.?

3. In another bowl, combine sugar and remaining cinnamon. Set aside.?

4. Place a sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface. Spread half of the remaining butter mixture on the surface, leaving the edges clean. Sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mix. Roll up tightly and pinch to seal the edges. Slice into 6 pieces and place cut side up inside each muffin cup. Repeat with the other puff pastry square.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer buns right away to a serving plate.?

6. To prepare honey caramel sauce, place honey in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 5 minutes until sauce reduces. Stir in butter. Pour in cream and stir. Transfer to a small pitcher and?serve with the mini buns.


Orange Honey Cake

Makes 10 mini cakes

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter?
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour?
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt?
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup honey?
  • 3/4 cup washed sugar?
  • zest and juice of 3 oranges, to make 3/4 cup juice
  • 1/3 cup rum?
  • 2 eggs


  • 1/2 cup honey?
  • 2 oranges, sliced into thin rounds, preferably with a mandolin

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter the insides of a large muffin pan.

2. Brown the butter by melting it over low heat until the milk solids turn golden brown and liquid is clear. Strain and measure 1/2 cup and let it cool completely.

3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and blend with a wire whisk.?

4. Place honey, sugar, orange juice, rum, browned butter and eggs in another bowl and mix with a wire whisk. Add flour blend and mix until smooth. Pour into buttered muffin pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is firm. Remove from the oven, loosen edges, and cool for 5 minutes before unmolding.?

5. To make the candied oranges while cakes are baking, place honey in a saucepan and let it simmer over low heat. Fit enough orange slices in the saucepan, let simmer for about 2 minutes, then flip orange slices over to cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Repeat with the rest of?the orange slices. Reserve any leftover honey.?

6. Bake orange slices together with the cakes until orange slices are caramelized and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool.?

7. To serve, drizzle leftover honey over each cake and top with a slice of candied orange.


Honey Panna Cotta with Fruit Compote?

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups whipping cream?
  • 6 tablespoons honey?
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water


  • 1 cup frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup honey

1. Place 4 to 6 small cups or glass containers on a tray. Set aside.?

2. To make the panna cotta, combine cream and honey in a small saucepan. Heat just until steam starts to rise, do not boil. Add gelatin mixture that has gelled and stir until dissolved.

3. Carefully ladle into prepared cups, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

4. For the fruit compote, place frozen fruit and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower fire and let mixture simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. If preferred, mash some of the fruit to thicken the sauce a little. Cool completely.

5. Just before serving, spoon some fruit compote over chilled panna cotta.


A longer version of this article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 2, 2016
Recipes and food styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz
Props styling by Athena Fregillana
Photos by Paulo Valenzuela