Fist. Bumping. Gorgeous.
This is a fresh, nostril-dancing, creamy dessert.
You can store individual slices in the freezer for up to 3 months. But it’s not designed to yield leftovers.
I found the most extraordinary bee sanctuary in Tipperary, where the apiarist practically reads the bees bedtime stories.
The hives are located on a biodynamic farm and produce the most fragrant nectar known on this side of the cosmos.
You can check it out here, and explore the sweetest idea of “hiveshares”. I feel like imploding with pride when I stumble across dedicated Irish farmers or artisans like Ailbhe and Arno. They make Ireland’s cultural tapestry much richer, and so deserve our adulation and support.
So what’s the difference between regular jars of honey on our supermarket shelf, and raw honey?
Raw local honey might sound a little bombastic, but I have a sense it’s already in your cupboard (popular Irish brands include Tara Hill honey from Wexford or Kilarney Clover).
Local means you’re high-fiving your town’s economy as well as escaping industrial heat treatments which can diminish the honey’s excitement. Just ask your regular health store to point out the local ones, and taste the difference.
Hay fever veterans swear by it. Local honey often contains manageable amounts of pollen from your postcode in it, preparing you for the sneezy season. There’s immune-boosting propolis too, and some serious anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial artillery.
How is it made?
Female bees collect nectar from various plants, shrubs, trees and flowers and turn it into an alchemist’s dream. Using special enzymes, (that’s diplomatic speak for frothy gob) the nectar turns into liquidy honey and housed symmetrically in honeycomb. Then the bee dance begins (as illustrated in my toddler’s Dr Seuss book).
The female honeybees flap their wings with a fervour usually reserved for an underage Limerick rave. This dance helps to evaporate the water content from the nectar and turn it into the licky sticky elixir as we know it.
“Honeycomb is altogether miraculous,” says Sarah Britton, founder of My New Roots. “To behold its sheer geometrical perfection is like a religious experience, and to see evidence of the deep, clear intelligence that built such a structure is humbling.” Stunning sentiment. Raw honey is very special – certainly one of life’s greatest pleasures along with itching, sneezing, and submitting to chilli.
Commercial manuka honey can be heat-treated, making it somewhat controversial. Maddening, right? This honey hails from New Zealand’s manuka foliage, thought to hold particularly high anti-microbial properties.
I find raw local honey more potent than most commercial brands of manuka. If you can get raw manuka, then lucky you! Applied topically, manuka honey has shown promising results treating MRSA sores. It’s worth remembering not to cook with manuka honey either, as the heat will destroy much of its superhuman powers. Manuka prefers an empty belly for its health benefits to kick in, so stir it through warm water with a nip of lemon as a tonic.
Alarming amounts of nutrition for a dessert. Feel the vitamins fox trot to your toes. This cheesecake is adapted from the Hemsley sisters version that use cacao nibs and coconut instead of rum and mint. I like their recipes – smart, simple and sassy.
For the base:
About 2 cups (280g) cashews
8 Medjool dates, stones removed
touch of sea salt
Splash of white rum (optional)
For the creamy centre:
3 ripe avocados, stone and skin removed (200g)
25g packet of fresh mint, leaves only
juice of 3–4 limes
4–6 tablespoons raw honey (use light agave for vegans)
3 tablespoons unscented coconut oil, melted
To make the base, blend the nuts, dates and sea salt in a food processor (not a blender) with a splash of rum or water. When it starts clumping together into a cookie dough ball, you’re good to go. Press into an 18cm pie dish or springform tin (the special ones for cheesecakes). Bring the dough up the sides like a posh flan if you fancy, making sure you support the elbow of the base – the part where the base meets the sides. Freeze.
Meanwhile, get going on your ‘cheesecake’ filling. Purée the avocado flesh, mint, the juice of three limes, 4 tablespoons of honey, the melted coconut oil and some Frank Sinatra at full speed until savagely smooth. I use my blender for this bit. Taste. If it needs more zing or kick, add another squeeze of lime juice to the mix. If you prefer more sweetness to rock your taste buds, then add an extra bit of honey. Spoon the filling over the frozen base and freeze until firm. Before serving, allow to defrost for 30 minutes so it is not rock solid. It should be sweet and creamy, and hard and clawing.
If you want to meet the people behind Irish artisan products, especially our outstanding portfolio of cheeses on this island, please come along to Sheridan’s food festiva
l in Meath this weekend. More details here.
See you Sunday!