I couldn’t let a summer pass without making these. It’s now, towards the end of it, that I think of them most. The garden is usually swarmed with bees, white cabbage butterflies, swallowtails—the ones whose cats have been nursing on the dill all season long—and other pollinators, either preparing for migration, hibernation, or just gorging themselves on the bounty before their number’s up when the cold comes in.
(A bee from a few years back on a blooming sedum, obviously enjoying the feast.)
Seeing the fuzzy little bees, stammering and staggering around from flower to flower, covered in pollen—I could watch them for hours. Usually though, after a few moments I’m reminded: I haven’t made Chocolate Honeybees yet! It’s kind of funny how the mood and taste for a certain something strikes with such regularity and occasion; every winter I have to make my Bolognese, just as every summer I have to make these—not that they can’t be made any other time of year.
Essentially, these Chocolate Honeybees are a crumbled chocolate wafer rubble and honey pudding, layered alternately in a clear glass to give the visual affect of—duh—little honeybees. The pairing of chocolate with honey serves a few purposes: the light floral and fruity quality of the honey lightens up some of dark and roasted tastes of the chocolate; its sweetness makes the subtle nuances of the chocolate more apparent. The small layers don’t overwhelm each other, but, rather, highlight their flavors, too; all the intricate and complex flavors of both chocolate and honey are, believe it or not, more apparent in smaller quantities, and alternating the layers makes this even more apparent. Of course, there’s the visual aspect of it, too.
You can use a good store-bought chocolate wafer or make your own. I use the same wafer recipe that I do for the Pumpkin Mousse with Chocolate Crumble—you may notice a common theme here. I got lazy this time and went with something packaged, but keep in mind that you’ll only need about half of the recipe below, so the rest of the dough can lay in wait in your freezer until the next time you need it.
They’re self-contained, too, which means they’re perfect for a dinner in the garden in the spring or summer, and the recipe can easily be doubled to serve more for a cocktail party—just set them out and let everyone grab one as they want. Best of all, this has to be made in advance, so it’s one less thing to have to worry about fussing over at the last minute. The pudding needs a few hours to chill in the fridge so it sets right and, after assembling the little glasses, they benefit from a few hours more to really come together. Just be sure not to top them with the little sugar bees (if you’re using them) until the last minute, otherwise they melt and go gummy.
Anyone questioning the chocolate-honey flavor pairing will be instantly converted on first sight from their “aww”-inspiring appearance, becoming a true believer after tasting them. I mean, look at them! Who wouldn’t love them?!
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