A phone call with my mother always starts with the same three questions. 1. How are you feeling? 2. How's the weather in San Francisco? 3. What have you made that's good lately?
Given that my first two responses are usually, "fine... and foggy", the last question is always the most interesting. I always shoot the question back at her, and we exchange stories of new dinner dishes to try or a dessert that was particularly delicious. As a habitual consumer of food literature, she's constantly flagging recipes, and in addition to success stories, she likes to tell me about her plans. I was thinking about making this stew from Smitten Kitchen, she might say, or did you see that recipe on the cover of Bon Apetit? Often she'll describe the dish with such gusto that I'll flag it too.
Such was the case a few months ago, when she described a recipe in Food and Wine for blondies made with Marcona almonds. I loved the idea but didn't feel like finding the actual recipe, so instead I dreamt up my own version inspired by the title.
I started with my slightly more cakey blondie base (I have two base recipes for blondies—one uses baking powder and the other, which I use more often, doesn't) and swapped the brown sugar for a mixture of white sugar and Tupelo honey, which adds flavor. I wanted to add both dried cherries and Marcona almonds into the dish, but I felt like if I mixed the whole thing together, it would be too chunky and muddled in texture. Instead, I mixed the dried cherries into the batter, then sprinkled the almonds on top, where they could create a salty-sweet crust.
The resulting blondies have a crumb that is more pillowy and cake-like than chewy, making them almost a cousin of cake. They taste of honey, vanilla, and cherries, with the occasional crunch of salted almonds. With actual cherries and almonds coming into the markets, they're a perfect dish for spring.