Hye Thyme Cafe: Blondies with Lemon, Thyme, and Toasted Almonds

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blondies with Lemon, Thyme, and Toasted Almonds

Blondies with Lemon, Thyme, and Toasted Almonds : Hye Thyme Cafe

This is a case of "do as I say, not as I do." I got the idea to make these when I found Lemon Chips at the local Amish Market recently. The first batch I made smelled heavenly, and the edges were delicious, but the middle was raw! Since I still had more chips and thyme, I decided to try them again - in a different pan - but forgot the almonds. Duh!!

I made the first batch in a glass baking dish, which I swear is how I have always baked Congo Bars (that's the recipe base I used), but the past two times I tried baking bars, even giving them extra time and with a tester coming out clean, they were definitely not cooked in the middle. I'm starting to wonder if this is the one recipe I need to adjust for the altitude I'm living at now. I'm definitely at a higher altitude, but otherwise, I haven't come across any recipes that have needed adjustment. The strange thing was that I actually had to "stretch" the batter into the pan because it seemed the pan was too big. That being the case, I certainly didn't think they would come out raw!

Blondies with Lemon, Thyme, and Toasted Almonds : Hye Thyme Cafe

This time, I baked them in an 11 1/2 x 16" metal tray - otherwise known as "the spinach pie tray." Do other people do that? I think it's funny that a lot of our kitchen stuff is referred to like that. We have the Pilaf pot, the Spinach Pie tray, the Whipped Cream bowl, the Dolma Pot, etc. We obviously use them for other things, but say I couldn't reach something in the pantry. I'd call one of the family giants and ask him to pull down the Dolma Pot from the top shelf for me. I guess even stranger is that we do the same thing with relatives; mostly aunts and uncles. Most are "Aunty So and So" and "Uncle Such and Such," but if you just say Uncle, everyone knows you're referring to my Grand Uncle Khoren. If you just say Aunty, everyone knows that means my Mom's sister Amy. It's like they have seniority or something. Are we alone in this?? I totally embrace our oddness - I'm just not sure how far it extends. LOL 

OK, back to the bars. Because the lemon chips made the first batch even sweeter than regular bars, and because of the baking issue, I backed off on the sugar and butter this time.  

1/2 c butter (cut back from 2/3 c)
2 c light brown sugar (cut back from 2 1/2 c)
2 2/3 c flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
3 eggs
1 c lemon chips
3-4 T fresh thyme
1 c toasted almond pieces

Toast the almonds in a dry pan, just until they get some color, then immediately pour them out of the pan so they don't burn from the residual heat. If you want to spare yourself from washing an extra pan, and plan to melt your butter on the stove, you can toast the almonds in the pot you'll use for the butter. For most recipes calling for melted butter, I'll zap it in the microwave, but in this case, since you need to mix the sugar into it, then add the rest of the ingredients, I do it all in one pot instead of mixing the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. You could also zap the butter in a big glass bowl, then add the sugar, etc., but you'll have a pan to wash from the almonds.

Melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar and let sit for about 10". You want to make sure that when you add your eggs, they don't cook!

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, then stir in the vanilla, followed by the dry ingredients and your mix-ins.

Either grease and lightly flour your pan, or spray it with a shot of PAM Baking. I went with the PAM. I really had to work to spread the batter into the 11 1/2 x 16". I thought for sure I was going to end up with a cracker this time, but sure enough - it filled out and rose to the occasion (so to speak). Bake for 25-30" until tester comes out clean, then cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Blondies with Lemon, Thyme, and Toasted Almonds : Hye Thyme Cafe

Blondies with Lemon, Thyme, and Toasted Almonds : Hye Thyme Cafe

Although I didn't have quite as much thyme left to use in this batch, and I forgot the almonds, the lemon and thyme shone through nicely, and they had that slightly chewy texture I love in a bar or brownie.

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