Ah yes.... following closely behind peaches, I've found fresh apricots in my market! Almost as exciting as finding fresh rhubarb...almost. Apricot season doesn't last long, so grab while you can and make these delicious bars. Not the kind of bar you can pick up with your fingers (or do it cautiously with a napkin underneath), more like a piece of pie with a crumb crust. You don't need a thing on top...these are the perfect sweetness and texture. You're going to love this recipe.
Fresh Apricot Oatmeal Bars
From pastry studio
8 (1 lb, 4 oz) ripe apricots
3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
1/4 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 oz (12 tablespoons) cold butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8” square pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along two sides of the pan.
Cut the apricots into 1/2" slices. Place them in a saucepan along with the sugar, honey and water. Split and seed a 1/4 portion of a vanilla bean and add the seeds and the pod. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes at a slow simmer or until the apricots just begin to become tender. Add more sugar to taste as baking brings out the tartness of apricots. Take off the heat and cool. Remove vanilla pod. (I didn't have a vanilla pod, so used a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.)
Combine the flour, oatmeal, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until ingredients are combined and the oats are chopped up a bit but not ground completely.
Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla. Pulse. The mixture should remain a bit loose but hold together when pinched. Pour into a bowl and toss with your hands.
Press about 2/3 of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan to form an even bottom layer. Bake until the surface is puffed up and looks dry and slightly browned, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Pour the simmered apricots on top and spread to within 1/4” of the edges. Top with the remaining crumb mixture, making sure to distribute to the edges and the corners to form a border. Press down gently to secure.
Bake until the crumb topping is lightly browned around the edges, about 20 - 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Run a thin knife around the edges and gently lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang to assist. Cut into bars.