Tradition has us overhauling on honey for the duration of the High Holy Day season. Rosh Hashana through Sukkot, we dip apples, we dip challah, we bake cakes, we shake cocktails; all surrounding this nectar-produced goop to emblematically summon a “sweet new year.”
“However, honey represents more than sweetness per se. It is one of the attributes of the Land of Israel which is described in the Bible as being a land that ‘flows with milk and honey.’ Thus honey on the table always reminded the Jew wherever he or she resided of their ancient homeland of Israel and of the Jewish attachment to its history and holy soil,” expounds Rabbi Berel Wein.
Why not further infuse this significant food with a personal spin? Kosher culinary guru and cookbook author Kim Kushner customizes her seasonal honey with easy, elegant flavor-enhanced combinations.
“I’m a sweet and spicy kind of a girl—literally,” says Kushner. “So whatever I eat, whether it’s a salad or a sandwich, grilled chicken or meat, I always try to pair it with a sweet but spicy condiment. That’s how I came up with the idea of infusing my honey with chili peppers! One thing led to the next and before you knew it, I was infusing my honeys with all different spices, herbs and aromatics.”
And in addition to spiritual symbolism, another perk of her inspired sweet-treat? “I truly enjoy gifting edible, beautiful, delicious gifts. And infused honey is a favorite!”
Below, Kushner shares a trio of her holiday recipes advising “good quality honey – pure and raw honeys work best” and encouraging “to experiment with your own unique flavors.”
For Chili Infused Honey
Choose your favorite dried chiles (I vote chipotle), steep in boiling water for one minute and drain. Let air dry for a few minutes. Place the chili into a sterile, dry glass jar or bottle and pour the honey over. Seal tightly. The spicy flavor will intensify over time.
For Thyme Infused Honey
Select 3 sprigs of fresh thyme per jar. Heat a frying pan over medium/high flame. Place the thyme into the pan and allow it to heat for a few seconds without burning. (The heat releases the natural aromas and oils). Transfer the thyme to a sterile, dry glass jar or bottle and pour the honey over. Seal tightly. The thyme flavor will intensify over time.
For Cinnamon Infused Honey
Use one cinnamon stick per jar. Heat a frying pan over medium/high flame. Place the cinnamon stick into the pan and allow it to heat for a few seconds without burning (the heat releases the natural aromas and oils). Transfer the cinnamon stick to a sterile, dry glass jar or bottle and pour the honey over. Seal tightly. The cinnamon flavor will intensify over time.