I’ve been watching the PBS series “Victoria,” about Queen Victoria and really enjoy it. The fabulous silk dresses and the dashing Lord Melbourne have me hooked! So when I ran across a recipe for Queen Victoria Dream Bars in “Bar Cookies A to Z,” by Marie Simmons, I had to make them! Had to!
Turns out they are buttery bars, tangy with fresh orange juice and grated rind, and chewy with chopped dried apricots. Actually, the original recipe called for good quality candied orange peel, but this is not to be found in my neck of the woods. Even bad quality is hard to find. So I substituted chopped dried apricots, and BINGO–these bars are so tasty!
The original bars did not call for a frosting or topping, but when I showed them to the Queen, she was Not Amused. I mean, they’re not bad looking plain, just a bit plain. So I made up an icing with powdered sugar and fresh orange juice and drizzled it over the bars. The Queen nodded ever so slightly in my direction when she took a nibble. The Queen was Amused! So glad. Here is the recipe.
Queen Victoria Dream Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 11 x 7 or 9-inch square metal baking pan. Line it with parchment paper, and lightly grease again.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until blended. Gradually add the orange juice and stir until blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt. Add the grated orange zest and chopped dried apricots. Add this flour mixture to the butter mixture; stir to blend. The dough will be almost like a cookie dough, not like a batter. Place big spoonfuls into the prepared pan, and press down with the back of a big spoon. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until edges are brown. Cool.
For the icing: Mix one cup of powdered sugar with three tablespoons fresh orange juice. Stir until completely smooth. Using a small spoon, drizzle over the cooled bars.
Baking notes: I recommend sifting the flour. Also, use a large egg. It used to be that small, medium and large eggs were sold separately, but now they all seem to be in the same carton. Egg size does make a difference in a recipe, so pick out the largest in your carton. I found that one orange yielded a bit more than three tablespoons of juice. You could just sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar–the Queen will like them almost as much as with the drizzled frosting.
Shown above, the freshly squeezed orange juice, the grated rind and the chopped dried apricots. Use the fine side of the grater to grate the rind. I got the flowered metal plate at a garage sale for a quarter! It’s a replica of a Sevres porcelain saucer. Only the best for the Queen.
I’m reaching into my bird photo archives here, because I want to enjoy some summer and blue skies right now, and it’s January, so it’s not going to happen. So I reached into a past summer and a past spring for the following photos. Hope you enjoy!
Meanwhile, my American prayer flag (see last week’s post) continues to flutter in the wind. It gives off blessings as it flutters, and seeing it helps heal my heart in these painful times. Hope it helps you, as well. Namaste. Fran