rosemary apricot cranberry bars
So we are fortunate to live where there is this awesome bakery, BAKED. Equally fortunate that we are only over in Redhook maybe once a week so we can't overindulge! That being said I do have both of their cookbooks (personally autographed, Thank You Mom!!!) and I will be adding the 3rd one when it comes out in the fall(?)...and yes, that is a shameless plug for them. During this last weekend, I wanted to make a cake for our Memorial Sunday get-together, and was going to do a version of their burnt sugar bundt cake, but, alas, I did not have everything. So paging through the book, I decided on the rosemary apricot squares, and realized, of course, I still didn't have everything or enough of some things, but I had (imagine deep movie guy voice)...SUBSTITUTIONS.
I have had the original square at Baked, and it is wonderful. But I have to say, my variation was pretty wonderful too, if the crumbs left behind on the platter from everyone is any indication.
I didn't have enough apricots for the full amount (recipe calls for 2 cups), but I did have some dried cranberries, and those two flavors complement each other well. I also was minus the pecans for the crumb topping, but I had cashews, which in my humble opinion actually tasted better!?! And while I am on the subject of pecans, folks, you can pee in a can, but you should only eat pecahns... :) I also added some lemon zest to the apricot/cranberry filling, which helped pop the flavor.
A few notes: I think it is better to under cook the shortbread by 5 or so minutes as when you put everything back in the oven, it will finish to a nice tenderness, and will not be overdone. I ended up needing more liquid when cooking the filling so that it wasn't a super sticky mass that went into the food processor, but you kind of have to eyeball that (I think I used an additional 2 tbsp of water). If you want more nuts in the crumb topping, I would increase the butter by a tablespoon so that it holds together. I also only had a 8x8 pan, so these came out a bit thicker than in the 9x9. What can I say, you make do with what you have!
rosemary apricot cranberry bars
Adapted from Baked Explorations
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (preferably UN-bleached)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups dried apricots-unsulfered
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp Agave syrup or honey (I have used both)
- 2 - 3 tbsp brandy (or use water for non-alcoholic)
- freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup cashews, chopped (use more or less depending on your preference)
- 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
Lightly spray, then line with parchment paper (paper should overhang 2 sides) a 9x9 pan.
Whisk together flour, salt and rosemary in a medium bowl. In a mixer with the paddle, beat the butter with confectioners' sugar and vanilla at medium speed until light & fluffy (aprox. 2 min). Turn to lowest speed and slowly pour in flour mix. Scrape into prepared pan and press out into an even layer (you might need to lightly flour your hands). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350*F
Bake until crust is just lightly golden, 20 to 25 mins, rotating halfway through. Cool pan on wire rack. Leave oven on.
Make the filling
Place all the filling ingredients in a medium saucepan with the water and simmer for 40 - 50 minutes, or until the apricots are fork-tender and most of the liquid has evaporated or thickened. Remove from heat & stir to release steam. Scrape into a food processor and puree until smooth.
Make the crumb topping
In the bowl of a mixer with paddle, combine flower, brown sugar, nuts & salt. Mix on low for about 15 seconds. Add the butter and mix until a sandy crumb begins to form (about 1 min). At this point the crumb can be covered and put in frig until ready to use.
Spread the filling over the shortbread, then sprinkle the topping over the filling. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the crumb topping has lightly browned. Cool for at least 30 mins. then lift out using the paper overhang, and cut into bars. Can be stored in frig, wrapped/covered for up to 3 days (if it makes it that long!).