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Blog Honey Fruit Cookies

Blog Honey Fruit Cookies

I always have a jar of honey in my pantry, and use it often for sweetening tea, making salad dressing, and stirring into glazes. But I confess I don't bake with it that often. Unlike white sugar, honey doesn't just blend into the background in desserts, and it needs just the right recipe to show its distinctive flavor to advantage. Actually, honey can have a wide range of flavors, depending on the type of flowers the bees gathered their nectar from. The honey you buy in a supermarket—most likely clover honey—has a rather generic mellow sweetness, but if you look in specialty stores, you can often find more exotic honeys, such as molasses-like buckwheat honey, light, citrusy orange blossom honey, rich wildflower honey, and extra-sweet tupelo honey.

Honey is an ancient sweetener, and is a traditional ingredient in Jewish baking. It's most notably used in Jewish New Year desserts. But because cookie-making is a popular Hanukkah pastime, and Hanukkah is a few weeks away, I thought I would make some honey cookies that can be rolled and cut into Hanukkah shapes. Recipes for Hanukkah honey-spice cookies abound, and some are very, very sweet and sticky. My recipe features plenty of honey but is not achingly sweet and has an assertive, but not overpowering, array of spices including cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a small amount of aromatic cardamom. Honey holds on to moisture, keeping the texture of these cookies soft, and the cherries and almonds provide lovely crunchy and chewy notes. The lemon in the glaze counters the sweetness and adds another layer of flavor to these homey cookies. This is a recipe that I will be making all year-round…I may have to start buying bigger jars of honey!

My favorite shapes for Honey Fruit Cookies include the Star of David cutter and others: Chai, Dreidel, Menorah and Torah.