. . . microwave? For those of you who have been losing sleep wondering about this vital question, here's the latest scientific research. Like so many great scientific discoveries (think penicillin), it owes its most important conclusion to serendipitous accident.
Step One: Put muffin on plate. Decide to have it with honey. Get from cupboard one quart-sized plastic honey bear bottle containing about an inch of honey. Discover honey has hardened and can't be poured out of bottle.
Step Two: Place honey bear in microwave oven.
Step Three: Set timer to 30 seconds and power to 50%.
Note: Here's where the serendipitous accident comes in. The researcher had done this same procedure many times, with uniformly successful outcomes. This time, however, the researcher's thumb slipped too lightly over the button when inputting the power level. Instead of 30 seconds at 50% power, the microwave was inadvertently set for 3 minutes and 5 seconds at full power.
Step Four: Go into dining room and sit down at computer. Become absorbed in a project.
Step Five: When around two minutes have elapsed, the researcher's colleague, busy in the kitchen with a different project involving hot water and dishwashing liquid, says, "Your honey must be melted; I can smell it." (Note: the lack of precise timing here is troubling. In the interests of valid science, this experiment should be repeated under closer observation.)
Step Six: Rush into kitchen and open microwave. Observe results of serendipitous accident. The honey-melting part of the procedure has been very successful, given the pool of boiling liquid spread across the glass microwave plate. The bottom half of the plastic bear has also melted. It is collapsing onto the glass like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Step Seven: Carefully pick up glass plate. Carry it quickly to back door, keeping it as level as possible in order to avoid dripping boiling honey onto floors, furniture, or feet.
Step Eight: Carry entire mess—er, scientific project—outside. Rest glass plate on deck railing and tip it to allow liquid honey and semi-liquid plastic bear to slide off onto grass below. Plastic doesn't slide. Request colleague to bring spatula from kitchen. Scrape melted bear off of glass plate—very carefully, as plate is too hot to touch.
Step Nine: Lean over railing and observe free-form remains of honey-spattered plastic bear. Note its strong resemblance to something that died in the woods some time ago and was recently dragged home by the dog.
Step Ten: Go back into house. Place glass microwave plate on a cooling rack until it reaches a temperature at which it's safe enough to scrub off the remaining honey and melted plastic.
Step Eleven: Eat muffin with jelly instead of honey.
Step Twelve: Leave microwave open to dissipate slightly charred sweet aroma. Consider more research to investigate possible names and markets for desserts made with triple-melted honey. Just Bearly Honey? Honey Overcomb? OverBearing Honey?
They may be faint, but there are possibilities. After all, since its name just means "burned cream," this is probably how crème brule was invented.
I wonder how you say "burned honey" in French?