Just in Thyme for the Holidays, Part Deux

December 2011

Growing up with three sisters fostered a preternatural appreciation for matching [and poofy perms apparently]:  Exhibit Q.  The moment would arrive when my matching would dawn on friends, acquaintances or even complete strangers.  They would stare, fascinated by my diligence to evenly dispersed color combinations.  At some point, my preoccupation with matching (and themes) permeated other aspects of life.

One of those crossover arenas was food.  What I might now call “parallel flavors” is really just two words describing “matching.”  I’m not claiming to be paving new territory, but I am announcing a new focus:  desserts and cocktails!  They should go together like toast and tea!  Cocktails and desserts should skip blissfully hand-in-hand.  My wonderful photographer friend Adam Milliron and this aspiring stylist have found a new focus:  boozy sweets and matching alcohol treats!  Without further a do…

Presenting Another With The Grains/Adam Milliron Collaboration!

A bit behind the scenes…

Agave Sweetened Lemon Thyme Bars and Whiskey Thyme Lemonade

I already mentioned I’m on a lemon and thyme kick.  Due to the agave route, the whiskey, vanilla and filling flour, these bars are more of a rustic shade of lemon, but they pair ever so nicely with the caramel and copper tones of whiskey.  Though I frequently sipped a similar cocktail this past summer, something about the bright copper tones atop a frosty base made this combination have a winter appeal as well.  Whatever the season, ’tis the season for this cocktail!  Santé!

(Click the image to enlarge.  Photos by Adam Milliron.  Baking, Mixing & Styling by Moi!)

Agave Sweetened Lemon Thyme Bars

Crust Ingredients

Butter, for greasing
1 1/2 sticks organic, unsalted butter, diced
1 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporate cane juice sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon organic almond extract

Filling Ingredients

4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
½ cup agave syrup
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Fresh grated zest from one organic lemon (about 2-3 teaspoons)
note:  I used the pulp from juicing whole lemons
1 cup freshly juiced lemons (from about 5-6 whole lemons)
1 Tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 sprigs of fresh thyme

Garnish

Confectioner’s Sugar
Thyme
Lemon Peel

For the Crust

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with olive oil or butter and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; grease the foil with oil.

Pulse the butter, both flours, both sugars and the salt in a food processor until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.  Add the almond extract and pulse to combine.

Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks.

Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile For the Filling & Finale

Whisk the whole eggs and yolks, sugar, agave syrup and flour in a bowl until smooth.

Whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, whiskey and vanilla.

Remove the thyme from the stem/stalk and add to the filling.

Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F.

Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven.

Bake until the filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with fresh thyme and lemon peel before serving.

Whiskey Thyme Lemonade on the Rocks

Ingredients

Thyme Simple Syrup* (recipe below)
Organic Sparkling Lemonade
Whiskey
Honey
Thyme for garnish
Lemon peel for garnish
Ice

For the Cocktail

This is a game of matching, not precision (I’ll work on that).  For one tumbler of sparkling lemonade on ice, add 1-2 shots of bourbon (depending on your southerness), 1-2 Tablespoons of thyme simple syrup, a drizzle or two of honey (depending on your buzzz) and watch it all come together for a spell before stirring, garnishing and enjoying!

*Thyme Simple Syrup

Ingredients

1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup water
~12 sprigs of thyme, plus 2 for garnishes

For the Thyme Simple Syrup

Combine 1 cup turbinado sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and add thyme sprigs.

Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.

Strain thyme from the liquid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cheers to all and to all some cheer!

~With The Grains

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