Saturday, October 8
I've always wanted blonde hair. A hair-stylist once told me that I could pull it off. My friends said No way. I listened to my friends. Last week though, I came *this* close to doing it. But as I was on my way, trying to decide between a shade of light caramel or deep butterscotch, I noticed the dark eyebrows looking back at me in the rear view mirror...they decided to side with my friends. Traitors.
These bars are not afraid to take chances. They dance around with piney, fragrant herbs. Who knew that rosemary could be so stunning in a dessert? I love rosemary, I throw it on everything from fish to popcorn. Next up, cookies. Great things happen when sweet and savory meet. The apricot filling in this recipe could easily be enjoyed by the spoonful. It's smooth and sweet, and texture wise, very similar to apple butter.
If you're feeling lazy, just make the filling, toss in some minced rosemary, and spread it over challah bread. It'll make you happy, and less guilty about being lazy.
You shouldn't feel guilty about being lazy on weekends. You shouldn't allow your eyebrows make decisions for you either.
Apricot-Rosemary Squares (recipe from Baked Sunday Mornings)
Rosemary Short Dough
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced [Note: I placed the rosemary into a folded piece of paper towel and rolled over it several times with a rolling pin.]
12 tablespoons (that's 1 1/2 sticks), unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups dried California apricots (about 8 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brandy [Note: I used 4 Tablespoons because I ♥ brandy]
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Prepare the rosemary dough: Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing a slight overhang along the sides (this will make it easier to remove the bars). Lightly spray the foil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and minced rosemary. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on medium speed).
Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in a slow, steady stream. Stop mixing as soon as the streaks of flour have disappeared.
Empty the dough into prepared pan and with lightly floured hands, press it into an even layer.
Press holes into the dough using the tines of a fork (this will allow the dough to release steam as it's baking, preventing it from becoming puffy).
Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes, or until it's light golden. Rotate the pan half-way through the baking time.
Remove the crust from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack as you prepare the filling.
You can leave the oven set to 350F, or, if you have a good memory, you can turn it back on mid-way through cooking the filling.
Filling: Place the apricots, sugar, honey, brandy, and salt into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the 1 1/2 cups of water. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40-50 minutes, or until the apricots are tender, the mixture has thickened, and most of the liquid has evaporated. [Note: This may take longer than 50 minutes. Mine took almost an hour.]
Remove the pan from the heat and give it a good stir to release steam.
Scrape the apricot mixture into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Allow the smooth puree to sit in the processor as you prepare the crumb topping.
Topping: In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, pecans, and salt. Mix on low speed for a few seconds. Add the cubed butter and continue mixing until a wet, sandy mixture forms. [Note: If you don't want mess up the stand mixer that you may have just washed, you can do this all by hand, using your fingertips to blend the butter into the dry ingredients you've achieve sandiness.]
Assemble: Spread the apricot filling in an even layer over the rosemary shortbread. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the filling.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crumb topping has browned slightly. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Wait at least one hour before gently removing from the pan (use the foil overhand to help lift the bars).
Cut into 16-18 squares (If you're hungry and want bigger squares, that's okay!)