There’s something desperate about resorting to dust, scraped from the knuckles of bees. But who am I to judge? I’m suckered into superfood fandangos like iron filings to a magnet.
Bee pollen looks tots amazeballs on chocolate, yoghurt, smoothies and ice cream. It’s an extraordinarily healthy food, and tastes like fermented ear wax so I like to freeze all flavour from it. If the queen bee thrives on it, sign me up!
Unusual for a plant substance, bee pollen contains all 22 amino acids making it a whopping member of the protein clan. It is naturally rich in enzymes to stoke digestion, iron (tough luck Popeye) and B vitamins to resuscitate dead batteries. Madame queen needs to lay hundreds of eggs, daily, and lives forty times longer than the working bee so her stamina is probably testament to this luminous superfood.
There are, no doubt, delicious varieties. Think about it – the taste of pollen is directly influenced by the flowers and shrubs that the bees forage. So don’t give up on your first taste. Ask a friend to buy a different brand to yours, and go halfies. It will keep for a year in the freezer (3 years in the fridge). I’ve seen some folk chew on bee pollen straight from the jar, without flinching. There’s a PhD there, in anthropology. Or psychology. Maybe one day.
Hiding it in chocolate is the easiest thing to do. Here’s one to get you started.
Chocolate Cups with Bee Pollen & Ginger
Makes 12-18 little chocolate cups, for storage in the freezer. Just double the portions to make a tart at the same time as the little cups.
3/4 cup sticky dates, like Medjool (150g)
1&1/2 cups walnuts (165g)
Pinch, good organic unrefined salt
¼ cup hot water
5 tablespoons raw cacao or cocoa powder
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1x 170g jar cashew nut butter
2 teaspoons tamari soya sauce
5 drops culinary grade ginger oil, like Neal’s Yard or freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons cacao butter, melted
Decorate with bee pollen (I like this one the best)
To make the base, chop the dates into small pieces and pulse with the walnuts and salt. You will need the teeniest splash of water to bring it together.
Press the mixture firmly into a dinky tray of small cupcake holders. Silicone ones, like in the photo, are the best because the mixture won’t get stuck. Freeze. You can also use an 18-inch spring-form cake pan instead if it all seems too tedious. The mini-cups are useful for parties though.
To make the filling, give the hot water, cacao powder, maple, cashew butter and tamari a good whizz in the blender. You should have a dense, dark, glossy ganache by now. While the motor is running, slowly add a steady stream of melted cacao butter and 4-5 drops of ginger. You can use fresh ginger, grated on a lemon zester. Sometimes the mixture inexplicably splits for me if I use fresh ginger instead of ginger oil, so I fear this is a question best put to Harold McGee. Taste, and decide whether you’d like more sweetness, or perhaps more saltiness from tamari.
Once happy, spoon the filling into each of your prepped nut cups, and smooth the top with your tongue or spoon.
We store our platoon of chocolate cups in the freezer, ready to serve at late notice. The base is excellent to use with hummus too, for small hungry hands, or pureed avocado and mint.
If you’re curious about the science behind food, I ask kitchen guru and scientist Harold McGee the all-important one on the BBC Food Programme here. Click on January 4 2015. Night!