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Fun with honey

Last year, I signed up for Chef Alan Wong’s Adopt-A-Beehive program to help fund a beehive for a student at the University of Hawaii Hilo’s apiary program

Posted February 14, 2012 by Ed Morita

Last year, I signed up for Chef Alan Wong’s “Adopt-A-Beehive” program by making a donation to help fund a beehive for a student at the University of Hawaii Hilo’s apiary program. Aside from regular updates from students, I receive honey harvested from the beehive. As a result, I now have an abundance of locally produced honey, which has allowed me to have fun experimenting with recipes.

I received my first shipment of honey shortly after I returned from Seattle, where I got a whiskey aging kit from Woodinville Whiskey Company. I had sampled honeyed whiskeys before, including Wild Turkey’s American Honey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Woodinville Whiskey Company After aging the whiskey for a month, I added a bottle of the UH Hilo honey and vanilla bean to the barrel. I then let it age for another two months. When it was time to extract the whiskey from the barrel, my patience was rewarded with a flavorful whiskey. I had achieved what I set out to do, which was to create something between the Wild Turkey and Jack Daniel’s whiskeys. I now had a whiskey that was as smooth, but not as syrupy, as American Honey, while not being as spicy as the Tennessee Honey.

Pleased with the results, I’m already making plans for my next batch. Some ideas I’m playing with is a longer aging period (possibly six months to a year) to get more oak flavor, as well as regularly topping off the barrel with my previous batch, a process similar to the Spanish solera wine technique.

After receiving another honey delivery last week, the first thing that popped in my head was toffee. The only dilemma was what kind of nuts to use. While many recipes call for walnuts, I’ve found that the bitterness of the nuts is too strong and overpowers the honey flavor. I used to compensate for this by substituting molasses in the recipe. Black walnuts were also definitely out because, aside from being expensive, I wanted the honey to stand out. Since the honey was from the Big Island, I decided to keep it local and go with macadamia nuts.

My kitchen filled with the aroma of honey as I cooked the caramel for the toffee. Once the toffee was cooked to the hard ball stage, I stirred in the nuts, then poured the mix into a sheet pan to cool overnight. The next day, I removed the toffee from the pan and cut into it. As I hoped, the honey flavor was front and center. The first thing I tasted was honey, followed by the toasted mac nut flavor. By sucking on the toffee, the honey flavor lingered for as long as I could resist the urge to chew.

Making the donation to the UH Foundation has resulted in an excellent opportunity to not only help UH students and Hawaii’s agriculture industry, but experiment with a great locally produced ingredient that I look forward to using in the future. Next up, honey-roasted pineapple…

Here’s more information about the Adopt a Beehive program.


  1. nonstopmari
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    love ur cooking posts! i always like it when ppl in various crafts can describe the creative process. how abt that ‘ask chef ed’ video series???

  2. Posted February 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    @nonstopmari I need to find time to cook more. If I cook more then I can do more cooking posts.

  3. Melissa808
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I second the cooking posts, or even the cooking tips! BTW, the site says that you get a quart or 2.5 quarts etc with your donation, but I thought you got little batches regularly? In any case, the bottle of honey that you shared with me was winna with all kinds of stuff, especially cheese. Can’t wait to try the toffee.

  4. turkfontaine
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 9:03 am

    what virtuosity. no wonder you were the PC at Greenbriar, where the powerful gather to divide up the world.

  5. Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:41 am

    @Melissa808 The number of bottles they send is dependent on how much they can extract from the hive. So I get 2.5 quarts spread out throughout the year. I’ve already decided to renew my sponsorship.

  6. Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:44 am

    @turkfontaine One can build up an appetite planning world domination. Maybe that’s why @melissa808 eats out so much.

  7. Posted February 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I gotta try this!


About Ed Morita

Ed Morita spent more than a decade working as a pastry chef at some of the country's premiere resorts and restaurants, including the Halekulani Hotel, The Greenbrier Resort & Spa in West Virginia, Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Michigan and Longhi’s Restaurant in Honolulu. After a near-career-ending injury forced him out of the kitchen, he embarked on a new career as a food writer, photographer and blogger for Metromix Honolulu and Nonstop Honolulu (, where he now writes the Baker's Hours blog. He's also entered the realm of politics, serving as the photography captain for the Abercrombie for Governor campaign in 2010, then becoming Gov. Abercrombie's official photographer until 2012 when he became the Social Media Director for the Mazie Hirono for U.S. Senate campaign. He's excited and honored to be the official blogger for the 2012 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. You can follow Ed's adventures online at

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