Apricot-Raspberry Bars

 

After five days of being home jet lag’s grip is finally weakening.  I consider it a success to have resisted going to bed at 6 pm but rather, making it until 8 pm and not getting up until 6:30 this morning.  As much as I missed cooking it took the better part of the week  before I finally the turned the oven on again after nearly a month.  From here on, however, I will be making up for the lost time.  I’ve got a few things in mind to bake but namely, a birthday cake for someone special.  I just have to decide on the kind of cake to make.

 

 

For my reunion with my oven, I decided on a batch of apricot bars.  I have not been able to get my friend, Laura’s Brandied Apricot Bars out of my mind since she first shared her recipe in May, at the beginning of apricot season.  I turned out a couple of recipes highlighting the sunny sweetness of the stone fruit–this Arugula Salad with Apricot-Mint Vinaigrette and this Apricot Frozen Yogurt–but I never got around to making Laura’s bars.  Four months later her recipe is still on my mind but fresh apricots are long gone.  This is what I ended up with using dried apricots instead.

I soaked the dried apricots in pear liqueur mainly because I had a big bottle of it and also because I was curious if it would impart a lot of flavor while it softened the dried fruit.  As an afterthought I tossed in a container of raspberries to infuse the final product with some freshness that I wouldn’t get with the apricots but I wondered if using the liqueur would be a good idea at all.  The lesson from this experiment is not to soak the apricots in the liqueur for too long.  I soaked mine for an hour, just long enough for the dried fruit to be slightly rehydrated and for some of the sweetness of the liqueur to seep in.  A little longer and I do believe that the liqueur would have imparted a medicine-y taste.  Cointreau, brandy or rum are worthwhile substitutes that might eliminate this possible negative effect.  Or if you want to leave out the alcohol altogether, you might consider soaking the fruit in orange juice.  Just a thought.  I took another precaution against this by soaking the whole dried fruit and waiting to chop them until later to minimize the liqueur infusion.

All in all, the bars turned out wonderfully.  The crust was crisp and sturdy enough to support the chunky fruit filling but crumbled nicely when biting into it.  The apricots were sweet while the raspberries lent a slightly tart finish.  Nicely balanced.  Be warned that the filling is sticky and the crust was still soft after cooling on a wire rack.  I removed the uncut bar out of the baking pan, transferred it to a cutting board and refrigerated it overnight.  The bar that I was hoping to end up with when I put this in the oven yesterday was waiting for me in the refrigerator this morning.  It went perfectly with my cup of tea.  No need to wait until the next apricot season to enjoy a good apricot bar (but be sure to try Laura’s when it does roll around again, I will) but I wonder how this version using dried apricots would turn out if I puréed the apricots first next time?  Just considering the possibilities…

 

 

5.0 from 6 reviews

Apricot-Raspberry Bars
 
Dried apricots make a great substitute when fresh ones aren’t in season.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • ***for the crust***
  • 5 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ***for the filling***
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 ounces dried apricots
  • 6 ounces fresh raspberries
  • ⅓ – ½ cup fruit liqueur, rum or brandy (I used pear liqueur)
  • Powdered sugar, optional
Instructions
  1. Soak the dried apricots and fresh raspberries in the liqueur for about an hour. Try not to leave the fruit soaking for too long so the alcohol doesn’t impart a medicine-y taste. Be mindful of this when using a fruit liqueur like I did. Drain and chop the apricots but leave the raspberries whole. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the crust: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Using a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together once or twice until combined. Then add the butter pieces and pulse until the butter pieces are the size of peas. The dough won’t completely come together here; it will still be loose.
  4. Transfer the dough into the prepared baking pan and press down to form an even layer. Bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 30 minutes. Let the pan rest on a cooling rack until you’re ready to add the filling.
  5. To prepare the filling (best to do while the crust is baking): Whisk together the brown sugar, egg, apricot jam, flour, baking powder, salt and almond extract in a medium bowl. Stir in the apricots and raspberries.
  6. When the crust is baked, pour the filling mixture on top of the crust and spread evenly. Bake for another 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center is a bit sticky.
  7. Set the pan on a rack and let it cool completely before inverting on a cutting board. I found that the bar is best refrigerated before serving. Cut into 16 2-inch squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like
Notes
Recipe borrowed (with modifications) from Fine Cooking Magazine, Spring 2008 issue

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the mention, you are too sweet! Your bars are stunning – I love that you infused the apricots with pear liqueur and the fresh raspberries are perfect here! :)

  2. Very pretty Jean;-) I can see why you were inspired to make apricot bars -the fresh raspberries give such a nice pop of bright color and i’m sure are delicious with the apricots;-)

  3. I remember Laura’s bars and drooling over them too. Yours look simply divine and the photos are terrific. The only problem is that I wish I had one in front of me or could snatch it from the computer screen. Hope your Sunday is going well! :-)

  4. Oh these do look lovely and I remember those crumb bars of Laura’s too. Glad you are getting over your jet lag and can’t wait to hear about your trip.

  5. Your bars look amazing! So glad you are back, and can’t wait to hear about your trip!

  6. The tarts looks too beautiful to eat!!

  7. welcome back! this seems like the perfect dessert to slip back into routine and into Fall!

  8. Yeah they are with dried apricots, I was thinking where in the heck did she find fresh ones this time of year. So glad you are getting back up to speed. I can still get good raspberries around here.
    -Gina-

  9. What gorgeous bars! Very original and really tempting.

    Good to know that you are getting back in rythm…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  10. What a nice treat to make after a month long absence in baking. I do remember Laura’s apricot bars because I too, wanted to make them. I never got around to make them. Your version is a good idea for anytime of the year.

  11. Yay, you’re back! I was totally looking forward to this post after you posted the picture of the soaking fruit. So glad you celebrated your return to the US with a return to your kitchen :)

  12. these look beautiful and they sound fantastic!

  13. Glad to hear your are recovering from jet lag. Kids and I always need one week to adjust and it’s so boring to be awake in the middle of night with the active kids. I definitely don’t look forward to the end of our Asia trip. You already baked after the trip! I have no such energy. Looks so good – I certainly remember Laura’s too. Apricot and raspberry, looks so yum!

  14. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    I am sure you had an amazing trip. This is a really nice end of summer dessert. I remember Laura’s bars and also dreamed of making something similar. The flavor of the soaked apricots must be divine:)

  15. Wow, what stunning photos! Just amazing my dear! The combination of flavors you have here is perfect!

  16. Lol, did you miss your oven? I bet not. We missed you being at your oven and here :) Fruit desserts are my fave and these are positively scrumptious!

  17. I miss the peach season and already looking forward to next year’s.
    Your bars look amazing Jean! I have a big bag of dried apricots we snack on usually in the afternoon but have never re-hydrated them. What a great idea!

  18. Hmmm…I have some pear liqueur in my “cellar” (under the sink) right not, heehee. This bar is calling out my name! Gotta tackle this soon!

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