This herbaceous take on a blondie is crispy, gooey and impossible to stop eating

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Salted Honey Bars With Thyme. (Photo for The Washington Post by Tom McCorkle. Food styling for The Washington Post by Lisa Cherkasky).

The thyme adds an interesting depth of flavor to what are basically caramelized blondies with crisped edges and a chewy interior.

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.

Salted Honey Bars With Thyme

Makes 24 servings

NOTE: These bars are like caramelized blondies with crisped edges and a chewy interior. The thyme adds an interesting depth of flavor.In testing, we found the baked slab tends to sink in the middle; that’s okay. (We got a bit less sink when using a Pyrex dish, but a metal pan is fine, too.) To take advantage of that lovely rim and gooey center, we recommend cutting these into long, slender pieces so you get the best of both textures. At 24 servings the bars are rich and generous, so feel free to cut them smaller if you prefer. Because the batter is so thick, we found it easier to use a stand mixer rather than blending it by hand per the directions.

MAKE AHEAD: The bars, tightly wrapped or in an airtight container, can be stored at room temperature for several days. For long-term cold storage, wrap the bars tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to several months.

½ cup honey

¼ cup chopped fresh thyme leaves (may substitute sage or rosemary)

2 cups sugar

1 ½ cups grapeseed oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

4 cups flour

1 cup slivered almonds (may substitute chopped nuts of your choice)

  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.
  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, 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 in a thick, uniform batter. Stir in the almonds. (After you add the nuts, you might need to use your hands to distribute them evenly and finish combining the batter.)
  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.
  4. Let the slab cool slightly in the pan before lifting it out (using the parchment to do so) and transferring it 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.

— 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.

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

This story was originally published at washingtonpost.com. Read it here.