Honeycomb is delicious, luscious, and expensive. So you know when you are about to eat it that you want the experience to be worth the money, honey.
Since cheese is also delicious, luscious, and sometimes expensive, it makes a great partner for honey and honeycombs in kind.
I asked in a social media post a few weeks back what everyone’s favorite cheese and honeycomb pairings were. The response? Give us ideas!
I bought a delicious honeycomb from the Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival and began enacting various pairing scenarios with it. A few of them were the bee’s knees.
Try it my way (all seven of them—puns optional), or give it a go of your own. You, too, will fall in love with cheese and honeycomb.
- Soft and Gooey
We’ll start with a classic pairing. That is, honey and Ricotta. Only I am suggesting that you pair honeycomb with that creamy, velvety goodness.
Slather a spoonful of Bellwether Farms Ricotta (or your own homemade Ricotta, or whatever brand is your personal favorite or close at hand) onto a slice of Anjou pear or Honeycrisp apple, or on a thin slice of baguette. Slice of a wedge of gooey, drippy honeycomb and place it squarely in the middle of the soft, decadent cheese for maximum flavor potential.
You could also try this with Fromage Blanc or even a cheese spread, like Willapa Hills Creamery’s Bacon Blu or Red Pepper. Sweet and savory works, too!
- Give it a Goat
Soft Chèvre is another classic pairing with plain old honey. As with Ricotta, you can use honeycomb to take your pairing up a notch. Spread your Chèvre on the cheese vehicle your heart desires, then plop a sliver of honeycomb right on top.
Or, if you want more substance, go for a soft-ripened goat cheese. Brie or triple cream-style cheeses are great, but I’m thinking of those geotrichum-rinded wrinkly guys in the vein of Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche and Coupole, Creamery 333’s Tricycle, or my new personal favorite, Tieton Farm & Creamery’s ash-ripened Black Pearl.
Cut out a little wedge of the cheese, smoosh it onto your cracker/cookie/bread/dried fruit cheese vehicle, and then position the honeycomb right on top. This flavor and texture combination is sublime.
- Cheddar Try This at Home
Cheddar is another pairing for honeycomb that cannot be forgotten.
Whether your make shavings of The Cellars at Jasper Hills’s Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, or you cut hearty slices of Face Rock Clothbound Cheddar to place onto your cracker or bread, the cheese will create a worthy platform for the sliver of honeycomb you balance atop it.
- All Hail the King
Believe it or not, the king of cheese can also be part of a sweet treat.
Chunks or shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano pair well with our beloved honeycomb. You can make the honeycomb the base for smaller crumbles of the cheese, or cover the cheese in the chewy, gooey goodness.
Whether you are afraid to get funky with washed-rind cheeses, have never tried them, or want to expand your horizons, it is more than worth your time to try pairing honeycomb with a washed rind. I recommend starting with the milder types before working your way up the ladder in strength.
Cascadia Creamery’s gin-washed Celilo is magical sandwiched between oozy honeycomb and a savory cookie. Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk is also a little flavor bomb with the honeycomb, and it combines the washed-rind pairing with a more traditional triple-cream pairing for honey. Or you can just go in for some of Jasper Hill Farm’s Willoughby and never look back.
- A Truffle’l Do
Yet another classic pairing for honey and cheese is truffles—either in the honey or in the cheese. Instead of pairing just about any cheese that can stand up to it with a truffle honey, try pairing a truffle cheese with honeycomb.
A slice of Caciotta al Tartufo or Sottocenere al Tartufo makes a nice, savory bed for a sweet hunk of honeycomb. You can also take this direction to Truffle Gouda town, or make a stop with some truffle Brie. If you are someone who enjoys truffles—or doesn’t know yet but is willing to try—your mouth will thank you.
- Sing the Blues
Finally, the go-to of all go-tos when it comes to honeycomb and cheese pairings, the wide world of blue cheeses. I cannot really think of a blue cheese that would not go well with honeycomb. For those who are not yet big on blues, there’s always Cambozola or a creamy Gorgonzola Dolce to act as your gateway drug.
For the more experienced blue-cheese consumer, Pt. Reyes Original Blue or Cascadia Creamery’s Glacier Blue will take you to heaven on a honeycomb. And for the blue aficionado with a hankering for adventure, there’s always going to be room for Roquefort on your list of things to pair with honeycomb—but you should add Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue to the list, too.
Cheeses aside, you can be just as creative with the vehicle you choose for your cheese and honeycomb pairing—and for added accouterments.
While there is no vehicle for cheese that I love more than bread, you can go the classic American cracker route, or you can use slices of firm fruits, like in-season pears and apples, or you can use dried fruits like banana chips, pineapple rings, and pear slices. Cookies are another great place to go, as in ginger snaps, sugar cookies, animal crackers, or savory cookies like the lovelies from Troubadour Baker in Seattle.
Then you can really get cray-cray by adding stuff on top, like a drizzle of chocolate sauce, fruit preserves, or spicy pepper jelly; died fruit like cranberries, tart cherries, currants, dates, or figs; nuts, raw pumpkin seeds, sprinkles of flax or chia seed, you name it.
Because while the pairing of cheese and honeycomb is often a play of sweet and savory, of balancing flavor profiles and textures between soft or firm with chewy-gooey, once you get that part down, you can add all sorts of things into the equation for maximum texture, flavor, and added balance or emphasis.
This sort of playing with your food gets at something called “the perfect bite.” And with honeycomb, you are already so close to getting there with cheese alone.
A final note: if you want to get really into the nitty gritty with your honeycomb pairing, or with honey in general, you should check out Culture Magazine’s guide to pairing honey with cheese. Laurel Miller breaks honey down into its different notes, then chooses cheeses for each category. I guarantee you will learn something new if you read this article.