I apologize for the past few posts' shortness, but I've been so busy trying to cram in the last few moments of summer fun before work began! And what a last hurrah it was!
I have baked so much in the last week and a half but I am having so much fun, coming home and being able to bake anything of my choosing is so relaxing and having the chance to balance it out between the SUPER sweet (yep, I'm talking to you S'Mores Brownies!!) to the scrumptious and savory Challah. (Did I just use alliteration over summer break?) Anyways, back to the reason for this post! I had my first day of work today at a technology company (Sorry, can't disclose the name!) as a marketing intern. Today was mostly orientation presentations and a REALLY long training session for a program I already know... So as I'm sure you can imagine, I was seriously ready for a little R and R, and on the drive home I thought of the perfect dessert. I saw it on the Food Network about 2 weeks ago and knew I had to wait for the perfect occasion to make it. Giada de Laurentiis is honestly one of my favorite people ever. Between Giada and Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), I think I would never have another boring conversation. She just seems so normal and down to earth! We'd be besties- I know it. :) So, in the spirit of sharing my love for my foodie idol, here's the recipe. These bars are chewy and moist throughout with just the right amount of crunch from the nuts! I am ESPECIALLY glad I halved this recipe because after watching all the sugar that was mixed into it and the AMAZING taste-I would absolutely gain 10 pounds if the full recipe had been in my kitchen. Be careful- these are crazy good.
Apricot Oat Bars (full recipe)
(adapted from Giada de Laurentiis)
- 13 ounces apricot preserves
- 8 dried apricots, chopped into 1/4 in. pieces (I kept the full 8 to add more authentic apricot chewiness!)
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 packed cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I left this out- not a big cinnamon fan)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (table salt is fine too)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup (4 ounces) coursely chopped walnuts (I only had pecans on hand so I used those and they worked just as well)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I left the whole teaspoon in my halved version)
- Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 by 2-inch metal baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. (Or butter) Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.
- Filling: In a small bowl, mix together the preserves and the apricots. Set aside.
- Crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Stir in the oats and walnuts. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and stir until incorporated.
- Using a fork or clean fingers, lightly press half of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Using a spatula, spread the filling over the crust leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the pan. Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten. Bake until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 1 hour. (This is the REALLY hard part!) Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Hopefully you'll give these a try and share my love for Giada and her yummy bars. :)