My timing on this is not great because as I post this, you’re probably all drinking detox smoothies and swearing off of sweets for at least a few weeks, if not forever. Either that or you’re growing weary of the recycled and regifted tins of cookies that make the rounds after Christmas. I swear they multiply overnight on my kitchen counter.
Well anyway, I just love these little chewy and crumbly bars so much. They were one of my maternal grandmother’s specialties so I have a sentimental attachment to them. I need to share this recipe with you, if for no other reason than to just put it out there in cyberspace for all eternity.
Last week I was making a batch for Christmas and the thought crossed my mind: I could add a little ground cinnamon, or nutmeg and perhaps they would be even better or… perhaps substitute cherry preserves for the apricot. So tempting to always change a recipe. But in the end, I left as is. And when I tasted that first little bite, it was just like gram’s. What on earth what I was thinking?
I’m not changing this one, not one single bit.
So in spite of my blowing the holiday baking deadline, I will say they really are perfect any time of year. They can be served for tea time, bake sales, new neighbor welcoming, and hostess gifting. I’ve even been known to enjoy one for breakfast now and then!
Now on to planning the NYE feast!
Gram’s Apricot Bars
1 cup brown sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup butter — slightly softened (see Note 1>)
1 cup apricot jam (see Note 2>)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and set aside.
Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking powder in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter to a crumbly consistency. Line the prepared baking pan with 2/3 of the crumb mixture, pressing lightly. Heat jam in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until liquid and warm enough to spread, about 1-2 minutes. (Or alternatively, pour jam into a glass measuring cup and microwave until warm enough to spread, about 30 seconds). Spread jam evenly over crumb mixture. Top with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake for 35 minutes (top should be light golden and bubbly). Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 1 1/2 -inch squares and store at room temperature in an air-tight container.
Yields: About 48 1-1/2-inch squares
Note 1> If using unsalted butter, then add a pinch of salt to the brown sugar/flour/oat mixture. Also, for this recipe, I usually just leave a stick of butter out at room temperature for about 30 minutes and find it is the perfect consistency for blending. DO NOT OVER SOFTEN THE BUTTER, or bars will not have that nice, crumbly consistency.
Note 2> Just because I like to keep this recipe “as is” doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with it! Definitely try different types of jam in the middle layer: raspberry, cherry, blueberry or apple would all be great substitutes!