I hosted a party this past Monday night for the camp that my children all attend, so while I was working at breakneck speed making a table and cleaning my disastrous house, I also had to cook. It’s more of a finger food event, and some guests had volunteered to bring some things, so I made my Warm Black Bean & Chipotle Dip and then three different types of dessert bars; these Apricot-Almond Shortbread Bars are my absolute favorites. The almond paste in the topping gives it the most amazing flavor when combined with the apricots. I changed the recipe a bit from the original. I increased the quantities as I wanted to make a 13 x 9 x 2 pan, and I added some chopped dried apricots that I soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes. Also, the original recipe just called for 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier in the filling, but I use a combination of Grand Marnier, Amaretto and almond extract.
Apricot-Almond Shortbread Bars
Makes 32 bars
Original recipe from Bon Appetit, December, 2005. Altered by Crafty Farm Girl, February, 2012.
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1-1/2 cups apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
- 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 oz. almond paste, crumbled
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan; line bottom and sides of pan with parchment paper, extending over sides. Butter parchment. Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small saucepan and stir in the chopped dried apricots. Turn off heat and let apricots sit for about 10 minutes. Drain. Mix dried apricots, preserves and orange liqueur in small bowl; set aside.
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in almond extract. Add flour and salt; beat just until blended. Transfer 1 cup of dough to another small bowl; add crumbled almond paste and mix with fingertips until small clumps form. Mix in 1/4 cup sliced almonds; set aside for topping.
Press remaining dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Spread preserves mixture evenly over. Using fingertips, coarsely crumble topping over preserves, then sprinkle 1/4 cup almonds over. Press topping lightly into preserves.
Bake shortbread until top and crust edges are golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool completely in pan on rack. Using parchment paper as aid, lift shortbread from pan. Cut shortbread into 4 equal strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 8 small bar cookies.
DO AHEAD Can be prepared ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.