A drizzle of sweet honey is the perfect contrast to the saltiness of a cheese. It's a popular combination for cheese plates and one of the easiest things you can pull together when you're entertaining.
And yet, there is a trick to pulling off this combination with perfection. Honey is meant to elevate the flavor of cheese, not smother it, so use it sparingly. Also, there are some types of cheese that are just a little better with honey than others.
Don't worry, though, we have some tips that will make navigating your cheese and honey choices much easier.
Serving Honey and Cheese
The easiest way to serve honey with cheese is to drizzle the honey over a wedge of cheese minutes before your guests arrive. You can also serve a jar of honey on the side of a cheese plate.
Many cheese shops also sell pieces of honeycomb. Leaving the honeycomb whole is visually stunning on a cheese plate. Guests can simply cut off pieces of honeycomb to eat with the cheese.
It helps to serve slices of baguette or crackers along with your cheese plate. These give the cheese and honey a solid foundation to build on top of, making it all a little easier to eat.
The Best Cheese for Honey
Honey pairs well with almost any type of cheese. It is especially good with a mild and creamy cheese, a spicy blue, an aged cheese, or a tangy, acidic cheese.
Types of cheese that are good with honey include:
- Ricotta drizzled with honey can be served for breakfast or even as a dessert. This pairing is fantastic with fruit like figs, apricots, and berries. You can also add a salty element by serving Prosciutto on the side.
- Brie and triple cremes are lovely with a drizzle of honey and a garnish of nuts.
- Blue cheese is heavenly with honey. If you usually shy away from strong blues, this is the time to be more adventurous. The sweet honey will mellow out the strong flavor.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano and other aged cheeses, such as sharp cheddar, are delicious with a drizzle of honey.
- Fresh goat cheese and other tangy, acidic cheeses like feta are subdued with a drizzle of honey.
Choosing the Honey
The vast majority of honey sold in grocery stores is a blend of honeys derived from various flower sources. Typically, it is also pasteurized to prevent crystallization. This type of honey has a mild and pleasant flavor and is fine for a cheese plate, although it does not have a memorable, complex flavor.
If you'd like to try honey that is complex, buy from a gourmet store or farmer's market. Look for honey named after flowers such as orange blossom, lavender, and clover. This indicates the type of flower the bees gathered nectar from. The subtle flavor nuances in these honeys are wonderful with cheese.
You can also buy flavored honey, which is infused with flavors like lavender, orange, raspberry, or truffle.
Honey comes in different forms, the most common of which is liquid honey. Honey is also sold with chunks of the honeycomb in the jar. You can even buy a whole piece of honeycomb with the honey inside. Many gourmet cheese stores sell honeycomb now, as it's a unique way to present honey on a cheese plate.