A while back I posted that I wanted this cookbook from Baked. So, I armed myself with a Barnes and Noble gift card and went out to fulfill my desire. My plans went awry when they did not have the book in stock. I bought the second cookbook from Baked instead, Baked Explorations.
The cookbook itself is quite wonderful. The photos are lovely and unique with a rustic appeal. Beautiful antique plates, platters and serving dishes display the sweet offerings of this cookbook. Wood grains, and all shades of brown dominate the color scheme with the occasional pop of color and accents of gold and silver. The recipes are keeping with the feel of this book, which to me feels like the cooler days of autumn. I can’t wait for it to be cool enough for me to make the whiskey pear tart! It’s 102° at the moment…
The first recipe I tried was the Rosemary Apricot Bars. I had one of these from the bakery when I was in Brooklyn last summer visiting my sister. It was such a great combination of sweet and savory, crunchy and gooey, and totally delicious. Mine did not quite measure up to the bakery standards, but they were good. So good that my husband asked for seconds. This is a rare occurrence, so I know this is a keeper recipe.
I made some mistakes with these bars. The recipe calls for a 9 inch square pan. I used an 8 inch, which made the bottom crust a bit too thick, and the topping a bit too thick, but the filling was just right. I skimped by 1 tablespoon on the crumb topping because that’s all I had left after the 12 tablespoons in the crust. As a result, a lot of the topping fell off the top of the bars when I cut them. Don’t skimp on the butter. My timing on putting these together was also a bit off, so the apricot filling ended up getting too thick and too reduced after sitting in a warm oven for almost 2 hours. Why? Well…
Our house is on the market, as of last week, but we hadn’t had any showings as of Sunday. So yesterday I struggled with myself a bit. Do I make these bars and risk a messy kitchen when someone wants to see the house at the last minute, or do I not make them and then regret it because no one came to look at the house anyway? I made the decision to make them. Having my house on the market shouldn’t mean sacrificing my freedom to baked goods, right?
I’d made all the parts of the recipe…crust chilling in the fridge, filling cooked and ready to be pureed, crumb topping mixed and in the fridge. Dirty dishes all over the place. Carson wakes up from his nap. I get a call from the realtors office that someone wants to come see the house as soon as I’m ready. I said 30 minutes and the frenzy begins to get things put away. 15 minutes later there’s a knock at the door. The dog starts barking, so Carson starts crying, so I’m trying to keep the dog from attacking the realtor as I try to get to the door. She apologized for being early, I asked for a few minutes to at least put my sweet guard dog in the back yard, I swept Carson up and we headed out to run an errand. I was a sweaty mess and then realized that I was holding a baby who’s diaper was just about at its breaking point. I was so tired.
I’d stashed the cooling apricots in the oven, which was warm from the beginning of a preheat, so when I get home the apricots were a seriously sticky and overly reduced mess. I warmed them up again with a little water and then pureed them. It worked out ok, given the circumstances.
Despite the craziness surrounding these they turned out well. I might play around with them in a 9×13 to get a thinner crust. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about using my kitchen and trying to sell my home. They do not mix. I think I will try to bake later in the evening instead of the middle of the afternoon to avoid the chaos I experienced yesterday.
Rosemary Apricot Bars
Courtesy of Baked Explorations
Rosemary Short Dough
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups dried apricots
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
- Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment, overhanging on 2 sides.
- In a medium bowl whisk flour, salt and rosemary.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy.
- Stream in the flour and mix on low speed until flour is incorporated, then turn the dough into the pan and press into an even layer. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.
- Place the apricots, sugar, honey, brandy and salt in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, or until apricots are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated and thickened.
- Let cool slightly, then puree in a food processor until smooth.
- Spread over crust while it is still warm.
- Combine sugar, flour salt and pecans in a bowl.
- Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until butter is incorporated and you have a sand-like texture. (You can store this in the fridge until ready to use.)
- Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of the apricot layer and bake at 350°F fr 20-25 minutes.