I love old cookbooks. Recently For research on lamb and goat recipes for the farm I work with, I’ve been collecting old Scottish and Irish books, most from around the 1900’s, since I know they historically work with lots of lamb and small ruminants. Aside from all of the great recipes like hotch potch I found, there’s been a few others that I knew would be keepers. Nut honey was one that caught my eye.
At first glance it wouldn’t look like much, a little sugar, an egg yolk, some ground almonds—definitely not honey. What it seems like to me, is that it was likely a sort of honey substitute, maybe one for when honey wasn’t available.
The inclusion of egg here is a good trick—one that I usually only see with old mustards, the type of ones in small bottles with artisan labels that have been growing in popularity, for good reason. Egg yolk, gently simmered in a mixture with sugar and vinegar thickens lightly, giving a sauce with a velvety, custard texture. Without the added egg yolk, you’d be left with a watery, sugary syrup that’s light in texture.
Having made plenty of stovetop mustard like I mentioned, I knew I could adjust the recipe to use maple syrup instead of sugar, as long as I reduced the maple syrup a bit to account for it’s additional water content. In place of the almonds, I used my hand cracked black walnuts, and the finished product is really good.
The original recipe notes said that the nut honey was good for children as a tea time snack, but this one, a slightly thick, sweet, maple-walnut sauce, is a grown up version born to be spooned warm or cold onto all kinds of things, especially creamy things like yogurt and ice cream, or tucked inside thin crepes with cream cheese. It’s a great recipe to try if you have a few nuts and some good maple syrup around.
Black Walnut Maple Honey
This has the consistency of honey infused with walnuts, it’s great anywhere you would use honey, as on yogurt, with cheese, on toast, etc. Makes a little over 1 cup
- Small saucepan, Metal mixing bowl
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 4 oz orange juice
- Zest of one orange
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 large egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp dry white wine
- 1 oz black walnuts lightly toasted and crushed
- Bring the maple syrup to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce it by 1/3, then combine with remaining ingredients.
- Put the mixture in a metal mixing bowl above (not touching) simmering water, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and the egg has activated.
- Cool, cover, and refrigerate.
- If the sauce tightens in the fridge a bit, bring it to room teperature to loosen it.
Other nuts can be substituted for the black walnuts, but the perfume of freshly cracked black walnuts it really nice here.