I adapted this recipe from one on epicurious.com several years ago and it has become a family favorite. The shortbread would be great just by itself, but teamed with a layer of apricot and walnut filling plus a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar, it is simply delicious. It’s easy to make with no mixer required.
Shortbread and Apricot Bars
- Servings: 8 to 12 bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup chilled butter cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a 9×9 inch baking pan, place the flour, sugar and salt, stirring with a fork to mix. Add the butter and with your finger press the butter into the dry ingredients and then spread the dough in the pan, pressing down to flatten and smooth it out. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until top is light brown. Remove from oven and set on rack.
2/3 cup dried apricot halves (about 4 oz.) coarsely chopped – place in small pan, cover with water and boil until soft – about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped walnuts
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, whisk in the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Stir in the flour, walnuts and apricots. Pour this mixture on top of the baked shortbread.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 35 minutes until top is puffy and dark brown. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Cut into portions and lift onto a rack that has been placed on top of a baking sheet. Allow to cool thoroughly. Note: I cut mine into 8 portions which turned out to be large servings of a rich dessert. Cutting the shortbread into 12 squares might be better.
¼ to ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
After cookies are cool, spoon confectioners’ sugar into a fine strainer and lightly sift over the bars.
Makes 8 large bars or 12 squares
I had bought some dried cherries for a certain dish and was looking for a way to use up some of the leftovers. I combined several ideas in this version of lemony-good shortbread with the sharp tang of dried cherries which had been soaked in cherry liqueur. Brandy would also be fine for soaking the cherries, but I happened to have some cherry liqueur left from another recipe and this gave me the chance to use a some more of it.
It takes a little planning ahead to make the cookies since the cherries are soaked for 4-5 hours and then the dough is refrigerated for 3-4 hours. The cookies are well worth it.
LEMON SHORTBREAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES
- Servings: 28 small cookies
- ½ cup dried Montmorency cherries
- ½ cup cherry liqueur or brandy
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
- 2 tsp. lemon extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
Place dried cherries in a half-pint jar and pour the cherry liqueur or brandy over them. Cover with a lid and allow to soak for 4-5 hours or overnight.
When ready to use, drain the cherries, reserving the juice for another recipe in the future.
Place the drained cherries on a paper towel.
Using the paper towel, blot the cherries. Chop the cherries coarsely with a knife. Set aside.
In the large bowl of a mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar. Beat in lemon peel and lemon extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture until the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
By hand, stir in the brandied cherries.
Divide dough into two portions, shaping each portion into a 7-½ inch long roll.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Unwrap dough and cut each roll crosswise into 14 half- inch slices. Place the slices on ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until edges are golden brown.
Remove shortbread from baking sheets to racks to cool.
Yield: 28 small shortbread cookies.