I’m a late bloomer in being able to say that I like these. Now, I am kicking myself for not partaking in them when my grandmother’s hands used to make these during the holidays. You see, I had an aversion to all dried and candied fruits and refused to eat anything that appeared to have them within. Oatmeal cookies, wouldn’t touch them (raisins), ditto for cinnamon raisin bread, date nut bread, and so many others that I gleefully eat and make now. My grandmother made these at Christmas time. My mother brought the tradition to New York and wooed my father with them while they were dating. To keep his hands out of them before Christmas, my mom stowed them away in the freezer, doling them out as a special treat. That’s an added perk, they freeze beautifully. They appeared on Christmas Eve and Day. They became what friends and neighbors requested (along with my mom’s fudge) my mother bring when invited to holiday parties and cookie swaps.
Just sweet enough with generous pieces of apricot interspersed with nuts and lightly coated with a snowy covering of powdered sugar, I am now converted from a dried fruit hater to a lover.
Apricot Bars – These are one of my maternal grandmother’s recipes that has been a favorite of my father’s since my mother made them for him in the late 60’s while they were dating.
This is an easy recipe to double. They go fantastically with tea.
Preheat the oven to 350F
- 2/3 c. dried apricots, chopped
- Rinse and then cover with water in a saucepan, cover and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, cool, and chop. Set aside.
- ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 3 tblsp. sugar (original recipe used ¼ c.)
- 1 c. flour (I used King Arthur white whole wheat flour)
- Butter an 8X8 square pan. Mix the butter, sugar, and flour until crumbly with your hands or a pastry cutter.
- Spread into the pan and pack down and a little bit up the sides. Bake 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool a bit.
- 1/3 c. flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ c. + 2 tblsp. brown sugar (the original recipe had 1 cup brown sugar, feel free to play around with the sugar amounts)
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- ½ c. nuts, chopped (I used chestnuts but you could use any kind you’d like)
- chopped apricots
- confectioners sugar
- In a small bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine.
- In another medium bowl, beat the eggs lightly and then gradually beat in the brown sugar. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Add vanilla, nuts, and the chopped apricots and mix to combine.
- Spread over the crust and bake for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares and roll in confectioner’s sugar while still a little warm.