The phrase “greater than the sum of its parts” is trite and overused, but sometimes, there's simply no better way to describe why something so straightforward becomes unforeseen level of amazing: The Beatles, a perfectly made PB&J, or the memories formed of an epic vacation with someone you love.
To that classic canon, allow me to submit a new nomination, something so simple yet je ne sais quoi-y that it's a wonder we haven't been doing this for decades already.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, I present: hot honey, a deceptively basic concoction of clover honey and chile peppers that is the perfect topping for damn near everything during the crisp, cool, leaf-strewn evenings of fall.
If you don't know why you'd ever make the effort, here's a brief, but absolutely inexhaustible list of things it will improve instantly: pizza, fried chicken, biscuits, salad dressings, waffles, roasted vegetables, ice cream, winter squash, fresh peaches, any and every cheese, toast, yogurt, granola, marinades for meat, sliced apples, cornbread, green salads, beans, barbecue ribs, berries, seared pork chops, and anything cooked on a grill.
The flavors meld together and become more than just sweet and spicy; somehow both infinitely complicated and delicate at the same time.
And it takes, like, two minutes to make. Let's go.
DIY Hot Honey Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups of standard grocery store honey
- 2 whole chiles, such as jalapeño, serrano, or fresno (see below)
First, a note on chiles: you can make this with dried chiles, such as chile de arbol, the long, thin Sichaun chiles, or even a couple spoonfuls of red pepper flakes, but the flavor won't be quite the same. Besides heat, the fresh chiles add a fruity complexity as well as the essential vegetal flavor that really sends this thing home. Plus, they only cost 10-15¢ each at the grocery store. #nobrainer
Remove the stems and top from the chiles, then thinly slice them into rings. Do not remove the seeds.
Then, add the chiles and honey to a small sauce pan with a lid. If you're portioning it out with a measuring cup, a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray will make clean up a lot smoother.
Place the mixture on a burner, and turn it to medium. Let the mixture slowly come to a simmer, about 180-190°, then reduce the heat to low. Put the lid on, and let it bubble slightly for about an hour. Turn the heat off, and allow the chiles to continue to steep for at least another hour, or as long as overnight. As the mixture settles into itself, the heat level is brought down to exactly perfect.
Taste it, and if you want it spicier, add some additional fresh chiles (now would be a good time to bust out those red pepper flakes). A very tiny pinch of salt will help you taste the overall balance more clearly. As is, this recipe produces a very nicely balanced “medium” level of heat.
Place into a covered jar. You can strain out the solids if you want, but I wouldn't.
Store in a cool dark place, and use on everything as often as possible. Bonus tip: this is an awesome holiday gift that you can make for everyone you know, and take out your whole list in a single afternoon for about $5 per person. Do it.