Overview

I tend to hoard cookbooks at my desk, waiting to flip through them when I’m on the lookout for something new/interesting/delicious/fast/easy. “Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb” by Hayley McKee had been languishing on the shelf for the better part of the year. The cover features a “naked” cake adorned with greenery and blooms, and, frankly, all I could think of was flower crowns and the gawd-awful scent of potpourri so potent that you can taste it.

Well! I am so glad my not-so-green thumb took another flip through the book, and you will be, too, when you get your hands on a batch of these one-bowl Salted Honey Bars With Thyme.

I’m particularly sensitive — scentsitive? — to botanical-based flavors (I am very wary of rosewater and orange blossom), so even after I settled on this recipe, I went into it with some trepidation. It calls for a quarter-cup of thyme.

Turns out, it works. (Even if stripping the stems to acquire said quarter-cup is a lesson in patience.) The thyme adds an interesting depth of flavor to what are basically caramelized blondies with crisped edges and a chewy interior. The herb is a natural partner with the honey, which provides heightened color and toasty flavor as it bakes and browns. You can also try the bars with such other woody, savory-leaning herbs as sage or rosemary, but I would stay away from wetter, leafier varieties such as basil.

Don’t be alarmed when the baked slab sinks in the middle; that’s okay. Each of the three batches I made did that, with no harm done to the final result. There was less sinking when I used a Pyrex dish, but a metal pan is fine, too. To take advantage of that lovely rim and gooey center, I recommend cutting these into long, slender pieces so you get the best of both textures. At 24 servings, the bars are rich and generous. Feel free to cut them smaller if you prefer.

The batter is pretty thick, but it can be blended by hand, especially if you’re willing to get your hands in it. You can use a stand mixer if you have one (a hand mixer isn’t powerful enough, so don’t burn it out trying).


Ingredients


12cuphoney

14cupchopped fresh thyme leaves (may substitute sage or rosemary)

2cupssugar

1 12cupsgrapeseed oil

2large eggs

2teaspoonsbaking soda

1teaspoonflaky sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

4cupsflour

1cupslivered almonds (may substitute chopped nuts of your choice)


Steps

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides for easy removal.

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Step 2


Use a whisk to blend the honey and thyme in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, oil and eggs; beat until frothy and well incorporated. Switch to a flexible spatula, and then fold in the baking soda, the teaspoon of salt and a third of the flour. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until it all comes together into a thick, uniform batter. Stir in the almonds. (After you add the nuts, you might need to use your hands to evenly distribute them and finish combining the batter.)


Step 3


Transfer the mixture to the pan, spreading it in an even layer. Bake (middle rack) for 35 to 40 minutes until dark golden brown, turning the pan from front to back halfway through.

Step 4


Let cool slightly in the pan before lifting out the slab (using the parchment to do so) and transferring to a wire rack. When still slightly warm or completely cool, cut into 24 bars and sprinkle a little extra sea salt over them before serving.

Adapted from “Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb,” by Hayley McKee (Hardie Grant Books, 2018).

Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Nutrition

Calories: 310; Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 15 mg; Sodium: 200 mg; Carbohydrates: 39 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 23 g; Protein: 4 g.