Faith Dionne is no novice when it comes to creating culinary confections, and her use of honey goes beyond adding sweetness to her products. She uses it to support local economies and bring people together.
“I use honey in all my products. It adds depth and complexity to my marshmallows, Pate de Fruit and the slightest flavor to my crème fondants,” Dionne, owner of Bees & Beans, located in Portland, Ore., said. “It is prominent in my caramels, taffy and nougats. I have committed to using honey.”
Dionne’s passion for pastries began in 1997 after she graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. From there, she worked around the country in a variety of climates and regions.
“I enjoyed learning about local ingredients and how to feature the flavors I found in these places,” she said. “I use a variety of classical techniques to highlight the ingredients. Local ingredients are a staple of her products. No matter where she works, she always uses local ingredients to give her foods a unique and native taste.
“The ‘Beans’ refers to the bean-to-bar domestic chocolates I use and the ‘Bees’ refers to the local honey I use. I decided to highlight honey in nougat and embrace the variance as a log of time and place.”
She says one of the main reasons she uses honey is to support local beekeepers and producers of honey. “The biggest benefit (when using honey) is to the local food system, followed by flavor and connection to the community,” Dionne said. “Local should be the first choice in every product, regardless of expense because we live in an integrated economy where we support each other.”
One of her objectives when she travels to a new location is to discover the local food culture. She does this in a number of ways including exploring farmers’ markets, driving through an agricultural area or even talking to local restaurants.
“Throughout my career, I learned about sour cherries and cheese in Utah, peach and wild game in Colorado, fresh beef in Wyoming, heirloom tomatoes and cider doughnuts in New York and muscadines and sorghum molasses in Georgia,” she said. “Not to mention all kinds of berries, pears, hazelnuts, coffee, pinot noir, and of course, honey in Oregon.”
Dionne says right now there aren’t many confectioners using honey like she does, but the numbers are growing daily.
“Since Bees & Beans began, I’ve seen more confectioners using honey, even if it is just a portion of their invert sugar. Our confections are of the highest quality, elegantly packed and widely pleasing.”
They are so pleasing, in fact, that she has won the Good Foods Award twice, once in 2013 and again in 2016. The award is judged by experts in the field and the products are tasted blindly (no packaging, marketing or reputation).
“I am delighted to have won twice for my products. They loved the quality, and they know that our practices are good,” Dionne said.
But just because she’s won an award twice doesn’t mean she can slow down on creating innovative, honey-infused candies. She’s currently working on a new, culinary confection: Li’l Mint. “I’d like to release that in the next year or two. It’s a mint cream fondant that also uses honey in a dark chocolate shell,” she said. “It’s meant for an everyday type of treat.”
Check out these Bees & Beans products made with honey!
Honey Bar Reserve
This 2016 Good Food Award Winner is made with honey, organic dairy, single-origin amano chocolate, sea salt, honey caramel and hazelnut nougat for a delicious delectable that melts in your mouth.
This crispy, crunchy, sweet candy bar is made with honey, milk chocolate, and peanut butter combined with dark chocolate to make an addicting, appealing treat.
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