Amazing apricot bars

Sweeten up your day with these gooey apricot bars on a delicious shortbread crust.

A Palatable Pastime
Gooey apricot caramel brownies with almonds, cranberries and coconut.

It was a few months ago now that I came across a box of something called “Apricot Breakfast Bars” at the market and told myself I should make something like that for breakfast at home. Of course, there was no recipe. All I had was the sample of their bar, and tasted the things in it.

Occasionally when I try to recreate prepared or processed food items in my own kitchen, something serendipitous happens, and that is the case with these amazing apricot bars. First, I had a hunch my bars would be better because they would be homemade. I also swapped in preferred ingredients, such as replacing the rice cereal from the boxed bars ingredient list with toasted oats. The fruits are about the same – although their apricots were a bit chunkier and unwieldy. Both are on shortbread crust.

The end results surpassed my expectations – mine are so much more flavorful and rich and not really suitable as a breakfast item at all, but a decadent dessert.

These bars are not something you can bake and eat while still warm. (We all know what happens with chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, don’t we?) I made mine last evening and let them cool overnight. This gives the caramel time to cool completely and set up. Otherwise I think if they were served warm they might be just a bit messier than you’d like. So be patient and let them sit, if you can.

I cut my pan into nine squares, but after tasting how rich they are, I might suggest cutting 16 smaller squares. Store them on waxed paper in an airtight container.

Amazing apricot bars

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (8-1/2 ounces)

For the topping:

1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, toasted

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)

1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup Simply Fruit Apricot Spread or Apricot Jam

3 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Butter the inside of a glass 8- by 8-inch square baking pan.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar (thoroughly mix until sugar dissolves).

4. Stir in the vanilla, salt, and flour and mix into a dough.

5. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the buttered baking pan, then chill in the refrigerator while you continue.

6. Mix the dry ingredients for the topping together in a small bowl.

7. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with sugar and honey over low heat.

8. Stir in the dry fruit topping mixture and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat.

9. Take out the baking pan, and spread the top of the dough with the apricot spread.

10. Top the spread with the cooked fruit mixture.

11. Sprinkle the topping with an extra 3 tablespoons of sweetened flaked coconut.

12. Bake for 20 minutes.

13. Allow to cool completely before slicing into squares.

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