08 November 2008

Cookie Bake-Along: Apricot Nut Bars

I've missed four weeks of the cookie bake-along, but these bar cookies for the week of 11-2 looked like they would be an easy way for me to start catching up today. The recipe comes from The Best of Fine Cooking ~ Cookies magazine.

First all, I will admit I did not follow the recipe exactly. Instead of dried apricots I used dried mango. This is because I picked up the wrong container at Fresh Market the other day. C'est la vie.

Here we have the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter in the mixer. I love my Kitchen Aid.

Chopping pistachios. Do yourself a favour and buy them already shelled! These came from Costco.

Not being a huge fan of chocolate, I substituted dried cherries in place of the chocolate chips.

Crumb mixture dumped into a Fiesta rectangular baker.

The crumb mixture patted down in the pan. I like to use the bottom of one of my stainless steel measuring cups to flatten the crumb mixture evenly.

While the base was baking the apricots and cherries got mixed into the remaining crumbs.

The base after initial baking. Visually there wasn't much difference than before the oven.

For the filling I used a half pint of homemade raspberry jam rather than apricot preserves. This was right at half of the amount called for in the recipe.

Filling spread neatly out almost to the edges.

Fruited crumb mixture sprinkled on top.

After final baking there was a definite visual difference. I did the final baking for the full 40 minutes.

I let the cookies cool until the baker returned to it's normal colour (it gets a lot darker, almost a burgundy colour, in the oven). Then I cut them into 32 bars. To quote Rachel Ray, "YUMMO!"

Apricot Nut Bars with Chocolate Chips
from Best of Fine Cooking ~ Cookies
Yields eighteen 3x2-inch bars

9 oz. (2 cups) all purpose flour
1-1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 lb. (1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 lb. (about 1 cup) chopped, shelled natural pistachios
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate or white chocolate morsels
One 15 1/4-oz. jar apricot preserves

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined. Add the butter and mix on medium until the butter is mostly blended and the mixture appears moist and begins to pull together, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pistachios. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of this crumb mixture, stir the dried apricots and chocolate morsels into it, and refrigerate.

Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes (leave the oven on). Spread the apricot preserves evenly on top, leaving a 1/8-inch border around the edge of the crust.

Crumble the reserved crumb mixture over the apricot preserves. Return to the oven and bake until lightly browned and the fruit filling is bubbling all over, including the center of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into 18 bars (or into smaller pieces, if you like).

1. Changes I made were to use mango instead of apricots, dried cherries in place of chocolate chips, and a half-pint jar of homemade raspberry jam instead of the apricot preserves. Then I cut them into 32 small bars.

2. I don't like things terribly sweet, so these were the perfect dessert. They were deliciously fruity. Some reviewers thought these were very sweet, but most of them used some white chocolate chips in the topping mixture. Mine were less sweet because I used only half the amount of jam than called for and subbed the cherries for the chocolate chips.

3. One of the things I love about the Fiesta bakers is that I never have a problem with things sticking and not coming out of the pan! I never have to use foil or parchment.

4. These were soooo good. I will plan to make them as gifts this holiday season and keep them in my cookie repertoire.
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RainbowDishes said...

Those look delicious!!!! I would definitely prefer the dried cherries to the chocolate chips too, not a big chocolate person myself.

As for the Scarlet baker turning maroon, I always thought I got lucky with my Scarlet. I didn't remember it changing colors when I used it to make lasagna. But last batch of lasagna did come out of the oven with an almost Cinnabar baker. YUCK! Good thing it changed back to Scarlet! :) It tasted so much better from the Scarlet pan! LOL

Becky said...

Thanks Craig! You should give these a try. They really were pretty easy. Mike and I both liked them a lot.

My scarlet bakers have always looked cinnabar when they come out of the oven. The first time it happened I nearly had a heart attack. My BEAutiful scarlet baker looked awful. You understand the relief I felt as it gradually returned to scarlet. LOL.