Sunday, December 26, 2010

Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars

I spent this past Shabbat with one of my favorite people, S, in Tel Aviv. It had been way too long since I'd seen her, and I hadn't yet seen her new apartment, so I was really glad to see her. I asked her what I could bring her for Shabbat and one of the things she asked for was dessert. Knowing how difficult the decision would be for me, I asked her to be very specific and she obliged by telling me that she would like something with jam. Immediately, I knew the perfect recipe. I opened Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey to page 90 and there it was- the recipe for Blackberry Jamble Shortbread Bars. Except I made them Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars. And in half the quantity. But were they delicious and buttery and mm-mm good? You bet they were! The recipe feature ground almonds in the crust, to punch up the flavor. (I walked around the shuk and walked into some stores to ask if they had ground almonds. They said no but that they could grind some on the spot. Freshly ground almonds? Can't beat that!) I also had some leftover slivered almonds from the Golden Lemon Almond Cake, so those made an appearance here, too. As for apricot? It's just good. I thought it would be a nice, light accompaniment to the almonds. And I was right. S really enjoyed them and when she brought over the rest for lunch (I bailed because I was feeling waaay under the weather), she came home with an empty pan. Home run! Feel free to substitute any flavor jam and any kind of nut. This a terrific base shortbread bar recipe that just welcomes your imagination. If you're going to halve the recipe like I did, use a 9x9 inch pan and not an 8x8 pan. There will be a lot less wasted dough. 

Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars
adapted from Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey

1 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 3/4 + 2 tbsp flour
1 jar apricot jelly
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Preheat your oven to 325. Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper. Set aside. 
Place the margarine and sugars in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the ground almonds and flour just until a smooth soft dough forms. Press a third of it into the prepared pan. Wrap the remaining dough and refrigerate. 
Bake for 20 minutes or until firm and beginning to turn pale brown around the edges.
Remove from the oven and spread with the apricot jelly.
Take the left over dough out from the fridge and breaking it up with your hands, sprinkle it over the jelly. Top with the slivered almonds.
Bake an additional thirty minutes or until golden brown and delicious looking. Cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares. Cool completely before serving. 

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