Friday, June 02, 2006

Apricot Squares

apricot walnut bars

For no good reason at all, I was not excited when I first saw this recipe for apricot squares on Martha Stewart’s website. But if it was good enough for Martha, it must be good enough for me. My baking itch needed some scratching and I just happened to have a gigantic, Costco-sized bag of dried apricots and some walnuts in the pantry. Well, at the time, my pantry was not really a pantry. It consisted of 1 small kitchen drawer and half a wall shelf. And I didn’t store the aforementioned bag of apricots in my 'pantry'. It lived in the dining room. I still don’t have a proper pantry in our new place, but I digress…

I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I loved the buttery crust and the just-sweet-enough apricot filling. Family and friends (even those who claimed to hate walnuts) loved it. Maybe it’s because I finely chopped the walnuts so that the filling wasn’t too chunky. Maybe it’s magic. Maybe it’s because they’re just plain yummy.

I like to mix the crust and the filling by hand instead of using my KA stand mixer. Sometimes I find it therapeutic. They are delicious with or without the dusting of powdered sugar.

apricot walnut bars 10x

Apricot Squares
makes 16 squares

1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp, plus more for pan
2/3 cup dried apricots
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
confectioners’ sugar (for dusting)

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8x8x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

Place apricots in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook until plumped, about 15 minutes. Drain in a fine sieve, and finely chop. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup flour, butter, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Blend until crumbly and combined. Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Using your hands, pat evenly into pan. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Combine remaining 1/3 cup flour, chopped apricots, brown sugar, eggs, walnuts, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Mix until combined. Pour mixture over crust, and return to oven. Bake until top is golden, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve.

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