ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bookstore Cafe Apricot Squares

When choosing recipes to try, I always have to weigh if they're worth the trouble. I'm not a fussy baker, and I'm not a perfectionist. I also have small children and, if I really want to face reality, other responsibilities in life, so I can't always spend all day and all my dishes on one recipe.

This one was borderline on the trouble front.

First, there are a few more steps than I'm accustomed to taking; for instance, all the food processing is a hassle for me because my processor is small so I had to do it in batches. But I thought it was worth trying because these squares just sounded so good!

Second, Red loves apricots so I knew he'd like these.

Third, I was kind of excited about trying the author's grating-frozen-dough technique for the topping.

Finally, it was a good excuse to finally get myself a powdered sugar shaker:

On the taste front, it was surprising. The crust/topping was not as sweet as I expected; hence, the powdered sugar plays a functional as well as decorative role. I liked them, but, you know, there's no chocolate, so... My tasters returned mixed reviews, some liked them, some didn't, but the best reaction came from my friend's husband whose mother is Austrian. We had dropped a plate by earlier in the week, and by Sunday I'd kind of forgotten. He sought me out at church to rave and exclaim how amazing they were. His wife said they're just like something his mother would make. It's hard to get a better recommendation than that!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground walnuts, optional
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 T shortening
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 to 6 T whipping cream

3/4 cup orange juice
2 T fresh lemon juice
4 cups dried apricots (preferably Californian)
1/3 cup sugar

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. For crust, place flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nuts in a food processor. Add butter and shortening and pulse to make a mealy mixture. Add eggs, vanilla and cream and pulse to form a soft dough. Turn out pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to form a firm but soft dough. Wrap in two equal sections. Refrigerate half of dough for an hour and place other half in freezer.

2. For filling, place all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, tossing fruit to soften, about 8 to 12 minutes. Let cool about 15 minutes and then puree in food processor. Chill well.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Generously spray an 11x7 inch pan or 9x9 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and place pan on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Pat out refrigerated dough in prepared pan. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool well.

4. Meanwhile, coarsely grate remaining frozen pastry on a box grater. Spread apricot filling on baked pastry bottom, then shower frozen grated pastry over apricot. Place pan on prepared baking sheet. Bake until top pastry is done, about 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan and then dust with confectioners' sugar.

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