Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sweet nectar

Did you know that there are beekeepers in Brooklyn? This was news to me. I had always thought of beekeepers as a rustic group of quirky hobbyists, and perhaps that is true to an extent, but it seems that there are beekeepers dotting the rooftops of Brooklyn, bringing its residents all natural and very local honey during its prime season. One well-known local beekeeper, John Howe, has his own website,, which explains that “urban honey has great advantages, among which is that the bees forage on a varied horticultural diet, the flowers of which are untouched by pesticides and chemicals of agriculture.”

Even though I use Burt’s Bees soap, I have never thought much about honey in general. I don’t take it with my tea, nor do I spread it on my bread. And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve used it in baking recipes, only because it’s been too few to tally. But honey is a versatile and distinctive sweetener, and I figured that I should introduce it into my repertoire. To do so, I actually had to go out and buy a bottle of the sweet stuff; in my pantry, I have random products like cider vinegar and oat bran, but I never had gotten around to acquiring honey.

And since I’m unfamiliar with using honey as a baking agent, I went to Martha Stewart, confident that she would have a simple recipe that would slowly introduce me to the ingredient. What I found was the following recipe for honey lace cookies.

I hadn’t before made cookies this delicate, and so my batch came out far from perfect, but the process went so quickly that I learned from my mistakes fast. The recipe calls for a six minute bake time, which slightly burned the first tray I baked. I would suggest watching the cookies closely after three minutes and removing them from the oven as soon as they are golden, to avoid the smattering of black that a few of mine came out with. Also, I have to add that a squirt of cooking spray on the wax paper, if that is what you are using, will help the cookie removal once they’re cooled. Finally, I used a measuring spoon to place the batter on the trays, and I think that this was the one proficient technique I used.

Despite the flaws that come with the trial and error of a new recipe, these cookies were crisp and packed a sweet punch of honey, and as Martha suggests, an ideal companion to a cup of tea. And my reliable friend/taste tester Laura found them light enough that she “could have eaten about ten,” but flavorful enough that two were completely satisfying.

Honey Lace Cookies

Yield: about 24


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (or waxed paper sprayed with cooking spray). Set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter, sugar, and honey. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth.
Working quickly, drop 1/2 teaspoon of batter onto prepared baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart. Bake until cookies spread and turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack; let cool completely. With your fingers, carefully remove cookies from pan.

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