Rosemary Apricot Squares

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    9

    large Bars

Appears in

Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

Baked Explorations

By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Published 2010

  • About

I am, and always will be, a dessert purist. I prefer my desserts fuss free, full of chocolate, and usually accompanied by a side of vanilla ice cream. I shy away from forced savory/sweet combinations and headline grabbers (bacon cupcakes, anyone?)—but I will make and try anything at least once. Usually, I then retreat to a peanut butter–chocolate default. So I was a little bit surprised by how hard I fell for these bars. Our Rosemary Apricot Squares are the creation of Eric Wolitzky and Patrick Panella, two rising talents in the baking world (coincidentally, they put some time in at Baked). The moment they presented them to me, I added them to our regular menu rotation. The rosemary short dough is light and elegant without being overpowering, and it combines well with the not-so-sweet apricot filling. They are great for breakfast, afternoon coffee, and casual dinners. In short, they are my chocolate-alternative dessert. If there has to be such a thing.

Ingredients

For the Rosemary Short Dough

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Apricot Filling

  • 2 cups dried California apricots (about ounces)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • Pinch salt

For the Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Method

Make the Rosemary Short Dough

Lightly spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to just overhang on two sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and rosemary. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla at medium speed until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and stream in the flour mixture. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan, lightly flour your clean hands, and press it into an even layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the short crust until it is golden, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Cool the pan on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

Make the Apricot Filling

Place the apricots, sugar, honey, brandy, and salt in a medium saucepan with 1½ cups water and simmer over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the apricots are fork-tender and most of the liquid has evaporated or thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture to release excess steam. Scrape the apricot mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth.

Make the Crumb Topping

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, pecans, and salt. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the butter and mix until a sandy crumb begins to form, about 1 minute. (At this point, the crumb topping can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use).

Assemble the Rosemary Apricot Squares

Spread the apricot filling over the shortbread, then sprinkle the crumb topping over the filling. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crumb has browned. Let the pastry cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan, then lift it out using the parchment paper overhang and cut it into bars. The bars can be stored in refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.