After seeing some fresh apricots in the market last week, I bought a sack and pulled out a couple recipes I've been saving. What followed? An apricot day in the kitchen...resulting in these marvelous cheesecake bars and then an upside down cake. Both were a big success and I'll be posting the cake in a couple weeks.
The bars have a cookie base with a touch of cinnamon. I used vanilla bean paste in place of the vanilla bean and vanilla, so if you're wondering what the little black specks are throughout (if indeed you can even see them in the photos), there's your answer. Simmering the fresh apricots resulted in a delicious puree with a vivid color and if you make some extra, it would be fabulous with yogurt.
Apricot Swirl Cheesecake Bars
From :pastry Studio
For the Apricot Puree
3 or 4 fresh apricots
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 vanilla bean
For the Bar Cookie Base
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
For the Filling
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg at room temperature
Halve the apricots, remove the pit and slice each half into 4 wedges. Place in a small saucepan with the sugar, honey and a piece of split vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent scorching. When sugar is dissolved, reduce heat and continue to simmer on low until the apricots have softened, about 4- 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Set aside to cool. *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8" square pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment large enough to form an overhang along two sides of the pan.
Combine the flour, both sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the ingredients are combined. Cut the cold butter into 1/2" pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Process until it looks like coarse meal. Combine the egg yolk, milk and vanilla and add. Process until the mixture starts to form large clumps and holds together when pinched. Press the dough into the prepared pan with floured hands.
Bake until the surface looks dry and slightly browned, about 15 - 20 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Beat room temperature cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and combine thoroughly. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg and mix until smooth. Pour into the crust.
Place the cooled apricots in the bowl of a food processor and puree. Drop spoonfuls on top of the cream cheese mixture. Use a thin knife to make a swirl pattern in the puree.
Bake until the edges are set with just a little bit of a jiggle at the center, about 20 -25 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. Chill until firm before cutting into squares, about 2 hours.
*Note: I made the apricot puree in advance and refrigerated it. Brought it to room temperature before swirling.