Rosemary Apricot Bars

August 24, 2012

I’m a California girl. Well, at least I was. I’m slowly getting used to the way things run around here. I don’t mind being converted into an Oregon girl, it’s just a bit different. Different customs and regulations. I’m not used to someone else pumping my own gas. You see, I feel like half of the reason to go and get gas is to get out of the car, get some fresh air, stretch your legs for a little bit. But no. Oregon doesn’t let you do that (well, I’m sure you have the freedom to get out of your car, but as far as the gas goes, it’s the law.) It’s weird, I tell you. Another thing I’m definitely not used to is having to drive specifically to a liquor store to buy liquor. You can’t just waltz into a Safeway or Fred Meyer and pick out a bottle of Jack Daniels. Coming from working at a grocery store that had the entire store lined with wine, beer, and booze right behind the register, it’s taking some adjusting to. You have to hunt down one of the (few) liquor stores around here, even if you just want a little mini bottle of brandy to put in your baking recipe.

That’s what I had to do for this. Oh, the sacrifices…

I’ll tell you what I do like though. NO TAX. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll end up paying for it someday, somehow, but in the meantime, I must admit it’s quite refreshing. I’m adjusting to that quite nicely.

Anyhow, I don’t know about you, but rosemary makes my dreams come true. Especially if apricots stewed in white wine, brandy, and honey are involved in the mix. Add some butter and flour to make a shortbread, and basically this is what you get.

I hope I’ve convinced you already.

Unfortunately for some reason these bars turned out a bit too dry for me. I think I put them under the broiler to crisp up a bit too long (you’ll see around the last few steps). They didn’t resemble the color and moistness this photo demonstrates, but that’s ok. They were still delicious. The apricot filling was delectable. If I make this again, I will definitely put a bit more rosemary in the shortbread dough. I could taste it, but it was a bit too subtle for my liking. Like I said, I adore rosemary, and I love the flavor to really shine through. Trials and errors in baking, it’s oh so much fun!

Rosemary Apricot Bars

Recipe from Savory Simple

Makes about 9-12 large sized bars

 For the rosemary dough:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

For the apricot filling:

  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 3/4 cups white wine
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (omit if using California dried apricots)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • pinch of salt

For the crumb topping:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Method!

  1. Grease the inside of  a 9×9 inch pan with baking spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan (I didn’t do this, and that may have been my problem).
  2. To make the rosemary shortbread, cream the butter, powdered sugar and salt in a stand mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and rosemary, then lower the speed and gradually add the flour until the dough is smooth.
  3. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.  Take some time to do this nicely so your layers are beautiful and clean.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Bake the shortbread for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. Make the apricot filling by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Allow to cool and then puree in a food processor until smooth.
  7. Make the crumb topping by combining all ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until the mixture is just combined and crumbly.  Don’t over-mix, you want texture.
  8. Spread the apricot paste evenly on top of the shortbread.  Make sure it’s level!
  9. Sprinkle on the topping evenly and gently press it into place.  Again, make sure it’s level; when you cut the bars you want three even levels.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is brown.  I turned on the broiler for a couple minutes at the end to get the top extra crunchy.  If you do this, watch carefully to avoid burning.
  11. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
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