Apricot-Oat Dream Bars

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I love community cookbooks. Most of the ones I have are from somewhere between the ’40s and the ’80s, with cracked, plastic spiral binding, and usually terrible line drawings of churches, dishes, or regional foliage on their covers. The type is often blurred and printed on cheap paper. There are seldom proper indexes, and sometimes glaring omissions, like, the name or location of the club, or, an important ingredient.

But flawed as they are, each book makes me imagine a long row of folding tables, laden with the appetizer through dessert potluck I am reading about, right down to the decade-specific aprons on the Ladies Aid and the color of the Tupperware. And there is almost always a handful of recipes that are true keepers. Like these chewy apricot bars!

The book they came from was missing its cover, and the recipe, I discovered, failed to mention that the quantity would fill TWO, not one, 9 x 13 pans full of bar cookies. So when I first baked these, I ended up with something tall as a crumb cake that never did reach proper doneness in the middle. The second batch–baked in two pans–came out just fine. I doubled the quantity of chopped apricots, which means every bite will be studded with nubbins of golden apricot bliss. The oats and spice in the mix add crunch and homey-fragrance. This is a perfect bar to make for lunchboxes, afternoon tea, afterschool snack, or care-packages sent off to your kids at college.

Makes 2, 9 x 13 pans of bar cookies

Apricot-Oat Dream Bars Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I grate this myself)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pound (four sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped dried apricots
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 9 x 13 baking pans with non-stick oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, oats, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger. In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip the butter and two sugars together for 4 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
  3. Remove mixer bowl from stand and slowly stir in dry ingredient mixture until incorporated. Stir in finely-chopped apricots and lemon zest. Batter will be very stiff. Divide between the two pans and press to spread evenly.
  4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center to check for doneness. If ready, remove bar cookies from oven and cool–in pans–on a rack. Slice and serve.

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