National Seed Swap Day
Posted on 28 January 2017
The last Saturday of January each year is known as National Seed Swap Day, which is an opportunity for gardeners to gather with other green thumbs and trade seeds. By engaging in a seed exchange, gardeners gain access to a wider variety of seeds and are able to save money by trading seeds they have plenty of for new plants. Today, we are continuing our blog series about our confections by highlighting the two Butter Cups in the collection that swap nuts for seeds to create the eponymous nut butter: the Sesame Fig and Sunflower Honey Butter Cups.
The Sesame Fig butter cup and the Sunflower Honey cup are my interpretation of a popular Middle Eastern sweet known as halva or halawa, which is a relatively dense confection that is sweetened with sugar or honey. Halva can be found around the world, from the Middle East to Eastern Europe to South America, and there are many permutations on ingredients and methods for making it.
I’ve been most influenced by the nut butter version that uses tahini as its core ingredient. I’ll admit I have never been a fan of the dry crumbly texture of this type of halva, but I always liked the taste – rich and dense with sweetened seed butter. I wanted to make a chocolate confection that captured the robustness of this flavor.
The Sesame Fig cup is a blend of tahini, dark chocolate, and figs. Figs are my favorite fruit. When I was a child, my mom’s cousin would bring bags of them from her tree when she’d come to visit, and I’d stand over the kitchen sink devouring them, juices dripping down my arms. The combination is one that often gives people a pause when they look at the Butter Cup Collection's flavor guide, but it quickly wins them over as the luscious seedy jam is enhanced by the rich, creamy tahini chocolate blend. The sprinkle of lightly toasted seeds on top helps punctuate the sesame flavor.
The Sunflower Honey cup is a blend of sunflower seed butter, dark chocolate, and sunflower honey. A honey's flavor, color, and scent are all influenced by the nectar source of the flowers visited by the honey bee. Together, the sunflower honey and the sunflower seed butter create an exquisite combination of flavors.
Aside from "what type of chocolate do you use?", the most popular inquiry we get is about whether our honey is vegan-friendly. Our honey is supplied by a small farm in Indiana where they use man-made hives designed with the safety of the bees in mind. Some vegans use this distinction to decide whether or not to include honey in their diet. The farmer explained to me: "Technically, no honey is vegan since we are taking the honeybees' food away from them. Some people consider honey from man-made hives to be non-vegan, and honey from a wild (naturally occurring) hives vegan. My personal opinion is, in order to get wild honey, one would have to destroy part of the beehive and probably kill some bees in the process, which is decidedly non-vegan. (Vegan approach is "do no harm”.) Man-made hives are made for honey removal only, and no bee lives are sacrificed. So this is actually friendlier to bees."
I often joke that my favorite butter cup is whichever one I am eating at the moment. Nevertheless, the Sesame Fig and Sunflower Honey butter cups always find their way to the top of my list when pressed to name my favorite. I hope you agree.