I love strawberries. LOVE them. The thing is…I’d much rather just eat them raw than ever bake with them. If you search my recipes, you’ll find almost every strawberry recipe uses fresh, raw strawberries, because that’s my jam (pun intended). 😉 So, when I set out to make something new, I looked at the pan of strawberries I was about to cook down and said “this had better be worth it!!” out loud. Well, they so, SO are. These Strawberry Thyme Blondies are a new family favorite, and I hope you’ll love them, too!
These Strawberry Thyme Blondies are a dream combination of textures and flavors! The brown-butter blondies are topped with a strawberry-thyme mascarpone mousse that is *almost* too pretty to eat! They’re soft and chewy, creamy and smooth, and just sweet enough with the nutty flavor of browned butter. Who could resist? Certainly not me.
Yessss to Brown Butter Blondies
The first thing you’ll want to tackle is the brown butter. Browning the butter is an extra step, but sooo worth the fabulous flavor! The key here is to make sure that the butter is browned, and not burned. Swirl the butter in the pan to help ensure even browning.
Listen carefully, and you’ll find that the butter gets quiet at just the right time. All the bubbling and sputtering stops right when the butter is browned–how convenient is that? Also, you’ll want to make sure that the butter cools a bit before you use it in the blondies, just to make sure you don’t end up with scrambled egg!
For the Best Strawberry Blondies
Vanilla bean paste is one of my favorite ingredients ever, so of course I had to add some to the blondies! Vanilla bean paste has such a fabulous flavor, and is more economical than buying whole beans. If you’re looking to get some for yourself, you can find some here. If you prefer to substitute, you can use an equal measure of vanilla extract.
When preparing the pan, I like to line it with parchment that overhangs the sides for this recipe. That allows you to lift the blondies from the pan when they’re done for easier slicing and serving. I prefer to use a nonstick parchment to ensure I can easily remove it after baking. If you’re looking for nonstick parchment, this is what I use here.
I found that when the mascarpone was softened, but still cool, I had a much better result with the mousse. I also had better luck when I added the strawberry juice *gradually*. The combination of room-temperature mascarpone and adding the juice too quickly left me with a curdled mess. Soft, cool mascarpone and the gradual addition of the chilled juice gave me exactly what I was looking for.
Can I make the Blondies In Advance?
Yes! Well…parts of it:
- The butter can be browned in advance, cooled, and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Just melt it over low heat in a small saucepan or (very carefully) in the microwave, then let cool slightly before using so you don’t scramble your egg.
- The blondies can be made the day before, cooled, and wrapped tightly overnight before use. If you need more than a day, you can wrap them up and freeze them until you need them.
- The strawberry juice can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. It’s fine to add to the mascarpone straight from the refrigerator.
One thing I *don’t* suggest doing too far in advance is assembly of the blondies + mousse. In the recipe I specify chilling for about an hour after assembly to allow the mousse to set. While the blondies don’t get soggy right away, I wouldn’t expect them to hold up if you put them together the night before you plan on serving them.
Do I have to use thyme?
No, you don’t. As much as I love thyme, you can ditch the thyme altogether and it will still be delicious (though it hurts me a little to say so). You could also decide to replace the thyme with another herb. Basil would be terrific here, too!
Now, if you love the idea of herbs paired with strawberries and want an extra punch of herb flavor, go ahead and double up on the thyme (or basil) when steeping it with the berries. The recipe as-written will give you a recognizable, but mild herb flavor. I don’t suggest leaving the herbs in when you blend the strawberries in the food processor, as this could greatly impact the color of your mousse!
So there she is! These Strawberry Thyme Blondies do take a bit of time and preparation, but the payoff is huge! These babies are gorgeous and delicious! A truly worthy use of those beautiful summer strawberries, if I do say so myself!
If you make these, I’d love to hear from you! Drop a review and comment below, and post to Instagram and tag me! Happy baking (and eating)!!
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Strawberry Thyme Blondies
Browned Butter Blondies:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (see note)
Strawberry-Thyme Mascarpone Mousse:
- 1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 16 oz mascarpone, softened
- ⅔ cup heavy (whipping) cream, cold
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, continue to cook butter, swirling occasionally, until browned bits format the bottom (~4-5 minutes). Butter will smell nutty. A good rule of thumb is that the butter stops bubbling and sputtering once it’s browned. Allow browned butter to cool slightly (enough that it won't scramble your egg when you add it later).
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8”x8” pan, line with parchment that overhangs the sides of the pan (see note), and set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and slightly cooled browned butter. Stir to combine. Add egg and vanilla bean paste (see note) and mix to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 18-22 minutes, or until blondies pull away from the sides of the pan a bit and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- Combine quartered strawberries, sugar, and thyme sprigs in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries release their juices, about 4-5 minutes. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature on the stove, which allows the thyme to steep in the strawberry juices.
- Once the strawberry mixture has cooled, remove the thyme sprigs. Scrape the strawberries into a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer until all you have left is the juice. Chill the juice while you continue with the recipe.
- In a mixer bowl, beat the mascarpone until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the beater and the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the mixer running on low speed, *gradually* add the strawberry juice and mix until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- In another small bowl, beat the cream and powdered sugar until peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture in three batches, ensuring that you don’t deflate the mixture. The resulting mousse will be fluffy with a soft pink color.
- Spread the mousse over the top of the cooled blondies in an even layer. Allow to chill at least an hour to set. Blondies can be removed from the pan using the parchment for easier cutting and serving. Garnish with strawberries and thyme sprigs, if desired.Enjoy!