Living here in Umbria, it is impossible not to appreciate the Italian lifestyle, and one aspect of that is choosing fruits and vegetables that are fresh, local and seasonal. It is now the end of June, which means that we have an abundance of apricots and cherries grown locally. I have been buying bags full of both of these fruits every market visit the past couple of weeks, and although we have been thoroughly enjoying simply eating them as snacks, I also have been experimenting with both fruits in some new recipes. I really enjoy it when apricots are in season because a good, ripe apricot has an amazing scent and flavor and can be used in a multitude of recipes.
For our recent farmhouse guests, I wanted to try out a new recipe that combines apricot jam with fresh apricots in an easy bar type of cookie and they met with rave reviews. As I have said many, many times, when it comes to desserts, I generally like to make rustic, easy desserts that do not require a lot of effort or fussing, such as these tasty bars. Although the first time I made them they were very good, I decided to make them once again, tweaking the recipe just a little, and here is that recipe. These bars are great anytime of the day as a breakfast sweet or a mid-day snack, but are very moist, so are best stored well wrapped in the refrigerator.
Deborah Mele 2011
With the addition of both apricot jam and fresh apricots, these squares are fresh and vibrant.
- 3/4 Cup (1 1/2 Sticks) Softened Unsalted Butter
- 3/4 Cup Liquid Honey
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
- 1 Cup Apricot Jam or Preserves
- 4 Finely Chopped Fresh Apricots
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In one bowl, beat the butter and honey until light, then add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder, and then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend.
- Add the walnuts and stir to mix in evenly.
- Lightly grease a 13 X 9 inch baking pan.
- Take 2/3 of the batter and press it down evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- If very sticky, lightly flour your fingers to do this, or place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the better while you press it down.
- Mix together the jam and fresh, chopped apricots, and then spread evenly over the batter in the pan.
- Take a small spoon, and drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter on top of the apricot layer, covering as much as possible.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bars are set and lightly browned.
- Cool to room temperature before cutting.