From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Here is another bar cookie to add to your cookie collection. While I usually include this on my Christmas cookie tray, it is a great cookie to make and serve at any time of year. This is not an overly sweet confection and it will appeal to those of you who enjoy less sweet, more European-style, cookies. The apricot filling has a jewel-like quality and makes the cookie attractive to look at. Because I am fond of apricots, this cookie makes it to my personal favorites list for its taste, as well as its appearance. The cookies are simple to make and will stay fresh for several days after baking if they are stored in air-tight contains or well-wrap in foil or plastic wrap. This is another of my favorite bar cookies. While I've had good luck using dried cherries and cherry jam for the filling, I am partial to apricot and recommend the apricot version to you. Here is how the bars are made.
Apricot Oatmeal Bars...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Giada DeLaurentis
1 (13-ounce) jar apricot jam or preserves (about 1 ¼ cups)
8 dried apricots, chopped into ¼-inch pieces (about ⅓ cup)
1-3/4 cups flour
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-3/4 cup old-fashion oats
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 × 13 × 2-inch metal baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
2) To make the filling: In a small bowl, mix together the jam and apricots. Set aside.
3) To make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the oats and walnuts. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla, and stir until incorporated.
4) Using a fork or clean fingers, lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread the filling over the crust leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the pan. Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until light golden. Cool for 1 hour. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Yield: 16 bars.
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