Hello there fans! Well this is an odd time of year, I’m pretty sure my bees should be hunkered down for the winter but with outside being a freakish 18C yesterday they’ve been flying. This is not great – yes it gives them a chance to make a cleansing flight ( ie. Have a crap) which is good for them but it also means that a) they’re going to get through their stores a bit quick and b) the climate is pretty much phucked.
In the absence of seasonal icy precipitation I bring you not one but two frozen offerings for your Wintervall celebration.
The first is a desert. When most people think of honeycomb they think of a foamed caramel confection which has as much connection to bees as a train time table does to actual arrival times, add the words “ice cream” to that and you have some awful concoction in a plastic cup from McBurgers called a Muck flurry or something similar. My production is about as far away from that as you can get and I think sets the gold standard in honeycomb themed iced deserts, for one thing, it’s actually got honeycomb in it – and I don’t just mean honey.
Honey I eat myself is just dug out of the frame with a spoon and squished onto toast ( sometimes I skip the toast). Beeswax, although we can’t digest it has a distinctive flavour that’s lost in extracted honey, I’ve been looking for a way to utilise it. This is version 2, the original tasted great but pushed the limits of cooking too far, it was edible shoe polish. Weirdly the emulsified wax actually inhibits setting and gives you a wonderfully scoopable end product.
Single cream 500ml
One egg yolk
One vanilla pod
Put the cream in a saucepan with the chopped vanilla pod
Beat the egg yolk and put it in a bowl with the honeycomb
Heat the cream until it begins to steam ( but don’t let it boil)
With constant and furious whisking, pour the hot cream over the egg and comb.
Once the comb has melted, return everything to the saucepan and heat with further frantic whisking. The beeswax, aided by the egg and the cream will form a smooth glossy emulsion. Once it’s thickened like a custard, strain it into a tub and put it into the fridge.
Once it’s cool put it in the freezer, once every couple of hours take it out and give it a stir. It should be done in about ten hours and will stay soft and easy to serve for weeks.
My second serving could accompany the first if you really want to hammer home the bees at a dinner party.
I make mead because I don’t know what else to do – cappings from extracting are covered in honey and so is the centrifuge after harvest, cleaning this lot up requires warm water and results in lots of sickly sweet liquid. Loathe to throw it down the drain, I throw yeast in and let microbiology take its course.
The trouble is I don’t really like mead – dry mead is rather lacking in body and sweet mead is just cloying.
Luckily I have a solution.
If you freeze a mixture of alcohol and water in a domestic freezer, it won’t all go solid – it’s not true that that water freezes out leaving alcohol but the ice that forms is lower in alcohol than the surrounding liquid ie. The remaining liquid is higher in alcohol.
This is emphatically not distillation it’s almost the opposite – what remains also contains more of the residual sugars, aromas and other stuff – it’s concentrated mead.
It’s also perfectly legal – a number of breweries produce beers up to 35% by this method without any need for a distillers license.
It works more efficiently if you do it in steps. To make mine I filled a pop bottle with mead, left it in the freezer for 20 hours, poured it through a sieve to remove the ice and froze it again. There would be photos but I accidentally wiped my phone. After three rounds, no more ice formed. Your final concentration will depend on your freezer temperature but mine stopped at around 25% with a litre of starting mead making 250ml of finished product.
The end result is darker, sweeter and sharper than the starting mead – almost a fortified wine. Enjoy – Responsibly ( yeh right.).