I’m offering this recipe for Apricot Pastry Squares mainly because they are so good, and so useful. The recipe comes from “Miss Grimble Presents Delicious Desserts,” by Sylvia Hirsch, and it’s a killer. First, there’s the incredibly tender, buttery crust, then there’s the caramel-y filling studded with luscious shards of moist apricot, and then, the drift of powdered sugar like snowflakes.
The beauty of these bars is that they could be taken on a picnic, or served with each square nestled in its own paper case on a beautiful holiday buffet. They would be perfect for Thanksgiving, Easter, or, for that matter, Ground Hog’s Day or Millard Fillmore’s birthday! You haven’t celebrated Millard Fillmore’s birthday? Why not? Here is the recipe:
Apricot Pastry Squares
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 to 6 ounces dried apricots, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You may use a 7 x 10″ pan, an 8″ square pan, or a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and lightly grease again. (If you use the tart pan, just grease it.)
Cream the butter with the sugar, then add the flour and the vanilla, blending well. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. The surface will crack a bit.
Simmer the chopped apricots for about 10 minutes in water barely to cover; drain and cool.
Combine the eggs with the brown sugar and beat with a large spoon for about two minutes, until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the egg mixture. Add the drained apricots, nuts and vanilla. Blend mixture and spread evenly over crust. (The crust can be still warm.) Return to oven and bake about 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Photos shows the dried apricots I used, and how finely to chop them. This made one brimming cup of dried apricots, but you could use as little as 3/4 cup if you wish. Also shown, the crumb crust ready for the oven.
Baking notes: The original recipe called for only 3/4 cup chopped apricots, but using a brimming cupful worked well. If you press the crust crumbs down firmly, but not mercilessly, you will have a tender crust. I photographed the bars when they were still slightly warm, and so they look a bit ragged. If you slice them when cool, they will be perfect.
This morning I noticed a mourning dove in the garden with a bit of straw in his beak, and then saw him fly up to a gutter of our neighbor’s house. He and a female dove are nesting! Here are some photos.