Fresh Apricot Bars

Pieces of fresh apricot tucked into squares of a rich, shortbread-style cake. I've been making these bars for more than thirty years!

Fresh Apricot Bars

There's a reason I remembered these oh-so-pretty apricot bars after -- dare I say? -- 30 years: they're that good. There's a reason why they're that good: think butter, think sugar, think something akin to a moist shortbread. Whew. A 50:50 butter:sugar mix I didn't remember.

The apricots have been so lush and juicy this year, I bought them three times before finally hunting up the recipe, a favorite from the year I lived in Finland, though it's not particularly Finnish. My third host mother made these bars with canned apricots so good news, it's a recipe that can be made year-round.

KITCHEN NOTES
Shocked by the calorie count? Me too, actually. But mine is one of the very few recipe sites (including the big corporate sites like Epicurious) which provides nutrition information with each and every recipe, even for recipes that rack up calories like crazy. I choose to own up to the nutrition impact -- bad and good -- so there's no hiding from it, no getting fooled into thinking, "How bad can it be?" Some times I fear that readers will abandon my sites because calorie information is included for recipes that are clearly an indulgence. But I hope that regular readers appreciate that here, anyway, they'll get the straight, um, skinny.
My first attempt to lower the calorie count per bar was to use apricot quarters, not halves, in order to make smaller squares. It helped a little but also absolutely convinced me that I have got to figure out how to make smaller bars. There's just something remarkable about the soft, barely-cooked tang of apricots against the almond-scented buttery bars.
My next tactic will be to chop fresh or canned apricots (and even moist dried apricots) to mix directly into the batter. The impressive appearance would be lost but smaller bars could be cut.
Refrigerated, a week later these bars are still fresh, moist and flavorful. It's another reason to get this right!

FRESH APRICOT BARS

A showcase for orbs of apricot
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 1 hour
Serves 12 or 20
  • 1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups (325g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 344g
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Fresh apricots (halved or quartered) or canned apricots (well-drained), enough to fill the tray
  • Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and creamy. One at a time, add the eggs and beat until batter becomes glossy. Add the extract and incorporate.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, add to butter mixture and incorporate fully but do not overbeat.

With your fingers, spread the dough evenly in a well-greased jelly roll pan or a baking sheet with sides, even a 9x13. Arrange apricots cut-side down in rows so that when cut, an apricot half sits in the center of each bar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked clear through and slightly golden on the edges. Let cool slightly and sprinkle with icing sugar. Any leftovers should be covered and refrigerated.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Bar, with 12/20 bars: 365/219Cal; 4/2 g Protein; 20/12g Tot Fat; 12/7g Sat Fat; 42/25g Carb; 1/0g Fiber; 196/118mg Sodium; 92/55mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers Old Points 9/5, PointsPlus 10/6
Adapted from a recipe from Liisa Rikkinen, my third Finnish mother the year I was a Rotary exchange student.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.
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Those are so pretty Alanna!

The calories are awfully high. But I'm glad you put the information in. This is why I come back here so often, because I know what I'll find.
 
Oh, seeing your apricot bars makes me long to have my apricot tree even more. I've always wanted to have an apricot tree and have been trying to figure out where there is room left to grow a tree. *sigh*, your bars look sooo good. I could eat a whole plate of them with a nice cold glass of milk.

I just love apricots and making your bars is next on my list. I'll just had to search out the apricots at my farmers markets for now, which is still wonderful. But I am still hoping and keeping my fingers crossed for a apricot tree one day!
 
These look wonderful. I wish I had picked up the apricots from PA yesterday at the farmer's market as I think the VA seller won't have any more at today's market (but maybe it was just the cherries that were finished here) but then I would have to make these. I assume the WW points are reversed? it should read 8/5? I bet they would be good with plums too.
 
I made these for our annual neighborhood "progressive" dinner (each course at a different house); we hosted the dessert course. I lined my cookie sheet with parchment rather than buttering the pan and it worked well. The dough was a bit hard to work with; I wet my hand with cold water and patted the surface smooth once the pan was covered with dough. I wanted each to fit in a muffin cup for easy handling and had very little shortbread around the fruit; the yield was 24-bars. The only change I will make on future batches will be a drizzle of fine lines of chocolate rather than the powdered sugar which simply melted away on the apricots. These were a big hit and people took home the leftovers -- always a good sign!

Susan
 
Susan, Great ideas for your party, thanks so much for sharing them. When you mentioned the muffin cups, at first I wondered if you had baked them in muffins tins, this might be a good idea too!

So glad these were a hit!
 
Earlier I posted that I made these for our annual progressive dinner. There were a few left over so I decided to freeze them rather than throwing away. The results were excellent -- we had company a few weeks later and could offer the apricot bars for a mid-morning coffee break. They were perfect.

Susan
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna