Confession #70: Summer Makes Me Smile… Apricot Bars

by alexandra

Post image for Confession #70: Summer Makes Me Smile… Apricot Bars

I know there’re people out there cursing summer’s 100 degree temperatures right now (in certain areas), but I seriously love summer. I love the warm temperatures, when my body can finally relax after being on edge all winter long. I love that I can wake up in the morning and just throw on a shirt and shorts, instead of a shirt that matches a sweater that goes with my boots and on and on…. I love the sunny skies, the green growing everywhere, the flowers blooming in a rainbow of colors. I love eating ice cream and frozen yogurt and not freezing to death. I love that there are always fresh vegetables from the garden and fresh fruits from the fruit trees, each type turning ripe during its own little slot of time, so for a few weeks, you can enjoy all the apricots or pluots, or figs or whatever it might be that you want. Sure, these things seem simple, but I think that’s why they should be appreciated all the more.

With all of summer’s fresh fruits coming in season, there’s plenty of opportunity to incorporate a new ingredient in your baking, something that you don’t always have on hand to use. Since we still have a lot of apricots here, I decided to use them in these bars, which are kind of like a fig newton-turned fig bar- turned apricot bar. I actually made them for Father’s Day, per special request, so I wanted to make them a bit on the healthier side for my dad. I cut back on some of the unhealthier ingredients, used a combination of whole wheat flour and oat flour, and of course, packed a generous 3 cups of apricots into them. Turns out you wouldn’t even know it, because they’re full of flavor.

The base of these bars has a really deep flavor due to the whole wheat flour and brown sugar, but they manage to stay light at the same time, and maintain a really soft texture. The sweetness is just enough to balance with the tangy apricot filling sandwiched in the middle. Together, it’s a mingling of tangy and sweet, fruity and nutty flavors. We enjoyed these Apricot Bars for breakfast, but they would also be perfect as a light summer dessert. Dad sure liked them, as did we all!

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Apricot Bars


  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 24 bars

Description

Two soft layers of cookie bar with a nutty, brown sugar flavor are the perfect balance for the tangy, fresh apricot filling stuffed in the middle.


Ingredients

Bar

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (4 teaspoons)

Apricot Filling

  • 3 cups halved, pitted apricots
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and cut a piece of parchment to fit an 9″ x 13″ baking dish with excess parchment hanging over the sides to use as “handles”.
  2. Whisk together whole wheat flour, oat flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. In the seperate bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla with second egg.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir in at lowest speed until just combined.
  6. Set aside 1 cup of the dough and place the remaining on the cut parchment. Place another layer of parchment on top and roll out to the dimensions of your baking dish (9″ x 13″). Place the bottom layer of parchment with the rolled out dough into the dish and, using a spatula, push the dough down around the edges of the dish as needed to fit. Place in the preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes, until just turning golden on top.
  7. Meanwhile, roll out the remaining 1 cup of dough between two sheets of parchment to the same dimensions. Make sure to be precise with this layer, as that will make it easier to place it nicely on top of the apricot filling. I recommend measuring the inner dimensions of your baking dish to help with your precision. Once you have the dough rolled out big enough, you can trim the edges as needed and roll them into the middle of the square of dough so that you’re dough ends up being the perfect size for your baking dish, with clean edges. Place the rolled out dough into the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  8. While the bottom layer of dough is baking and the top layer is chilling, prepare the apricot filling. Puree the apricot halves in a food processor until smooth. Add honey and process in to evenly incorporate. Pour the filling on top of the bottom layer of dough, spreading out evenly, and top with the chilled top layer of dough. Carefully peel back the parchment on the top layer. If a small piece of the dough cracks, don’t worry to much about it. If the edge of the dough is climbing up the sides of the baking dish in any spots, gently push it down as you did the with first layer of dough.
  9. Bake the prepared bars for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without any dough on it. Cool slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to cool completely. Once cold, use the “handles” of the parchment to remove the bars from the baking dish, and slice into 24 equal pieces. Enjoy!

Recipe Loosely Adapted From: Brown Eyed Baker, Originally From: America’s Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies (Holiday 2010 New Twists & Family Favorites)

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Sandra Rose June 20, 2012

Beautiful pictures! They look scrumptious, too. This will be my next morning treat! :)

brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

Thanks :) They’re pretty scrumptious…Enjoy!

Jennifer June 20, 2012

These look so good. I will have to try these one weekend soon. Apricots are one of my favorite summer fruits. I know what you mean about the heat. I love the heat myself just not the humidity. It’s feeling like 42 C where I am. That’s 107 F! Eep.

brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

Try to do it while apricots are in season! For us at least, the season is pretty fast. Humidity = not fun! I know what you mean :(

Heidi @ Food Doodles June 20, 2012

Ooooh, these look good! I love how tangy apricots get when they’re cooked like this. So yummy! And I love that you used whole wheat flour!
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brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

The tangy apricots are so good with the brown sugar flavor in the bar. The whole wheat actually helps too, because it works with that deep flavor. Thanks for stopping by :)

Shumaila June 20, 2012

Yum, I love the idea of these bars! The photos make them look even better!
Shumaila recently posted..Garam Masala Tuesdays: Roasted Masala CauliflowerMy Profile

brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

Thanks! They’re pretty tasty, and a great way to use some fresh fruit.

jacquie June 20, 2012

these look wonderful. unfortunately apricots are hard to come by here – do you think cherries or blueberries would work? would you make any alterations if you did it w/ either of those? and since i’m asking questions… what about using old fashioned oats rather that the oat flour? thanks.

brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

I definitley think you could switch out the fruit. I especially like the idea of using cherries because it would work well with those deep flavors that whole wheat and brown sugar contribute. It just means that you’ll have to pit quite a few cherries…. I don’t really think you need to change anything else, except you might use a different amount of honey to puree with the fruit depending on the sweetness of the fruit you use. Apricots can be quite tangy. That being said, you don’t want the fruit puree to be too sweet, because the cookie part lends enough sweetness on its own. So basically, just taste as you go with the pureed fruit. As far as the oat flour, I make my own oat flour by grinding up old fashioned oats in a coffee grinder. I have a short post about that here if you want to try it out. I’m not sure that oats that are not ground would work the same because of their different consistency. You could always sub all-purpose flour though, if you don’t feel like making the oat flour. Hope that helps!

Champa June 21, 2012

I love summer too sans the heat plus I cannot turn the oven on in summer unless I am up very early in the morning. This looks like a delicious bar cookie.
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brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

Thanks! I agree; It can get pretty hot for baking! I was getting warm just kneading bread a few hours ago… But for yummy recipes I try to just grin and bear it. :)

George@CulinaryTravels June 21, 2012

They look and sound so very good. Beautiful food styling and photography too. Thank you for visiting my blog :)
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brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

Thank you so much :) And you’re welcome! I’m serious about trying those brownies!

Riley June 21, 2012

I don’t love the heat of summer, but I do love fresh fruits like apricots. These look so yummy. I can’t wait to make them!

brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

I hope you give them a try and let me know what you think :)

Kristy @ Southern In-Law June 21, 2012

These look delicious, I bet they’d work really well with dates too!
Kristy @ Southern In-Law recently posted..Recipe: Secretly Healthy Double Chocolate Brownies *GF!My Profile

brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012

That’s a good idea! I think I would make the bar less sweet though, and skip the honey too, since dates are so sweet on their own.

what katie's baking June 21, 2012

mmmmm… apricot newtons! haha. they look amazing.. ten times better than fig newtons!

brighteyedbaker June 23, 2012

Yup! I like fig newtons too, but apricots definitely add their own flair!

myfudo June 23, 2012

I love the trips to the beach, which are not as fun during the winter ;)
Of course I love the fruity festivals during summer…This is a perfect treat!
myfudo recently posted..savory dishes: summertime & nelly’s bbq spare ribsMy Profile

brighteyedbaker June 23, 2012

Trips to the beach are definitely better in the summer! And having lots of fruit to experiment with is always fun :)

Meghan June 24, 2012

I can’t get enough of all the wonderful summer fruit right now! These look both beautiful and delicious!
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brighteyedbaker June 26, 2012

Summer fruit definitely opens up a lot of possibilities in the culinary world! The trick is to get creative with it all. Thanks!

lynn @ the actor's diet July 19, 2012

oh man – craving one now!
lynn @ the actor’s diet recently posted..The Simple ThingsMy Profile

brighteyedbaker July 19, 2012

They are pretty crave-worthy!

Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen August 11, 2012

These look delicious! I can’t wait to give these a try! :)
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brighteyedbaker August 13, 2012

Still have apricots where you are? If so, go for it!

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