Weeknight Cooking

How to Make Fresh Apricots Irresistible

May 18, 2015

For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.

Today: Fresh apricots deserve a little love, too. 

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Apricots don’t get a lot of love. Aside from the dried variety, which are totally snackable straight from a bulk bin or mixed into trail mix, apricots are never my first choice. PB&J is a job for raspberry jam, warm weather pies are clearly peach territory, and fresh stone fruit cravings almost always lead me to a plum. But May means prime fresh apricot season, and last week I found it impossible to pass by the mountain of pretty mini orange orbs at the farmers market without purchasing a handful.

More: How to find, store, and use fresh apricots.

These crumb bars are part jam and part fresh fruit , and were born out of my musing about the only apricot-related dessert in my arsenal: oatmeal cookies. Once, seeking an alternative to raisins and having no cranberries on hand, I studded my favorite recipe with slivers of dried ‘cots, and the move was definitely a good one. On their own or as bookends to an ice cream sandwich, the cookies solidified the pairing of homey oats and sweet, tart, summery-orange fruit. Here, in bar form, I weigh down the oat topping and the bright fruity middle with a butter-heavy shortbread crust, which comes together in a breeze using just your hands.

Regarding the salt at the end: A girl I used to babysit would eat peach preserves on toast with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top. Once, she made a slice for me, and I (already a Maldon worshipper) fully dug the way the salt made the fruit’s flavor pop. Finishing these bars the same way keeps them from getting overly sticky-sweet and adds a really satisfying crunch. 

Apricot Oat Crumb Bars

Makes 16 bars

For crust and filling:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 to 5 ounces apricot jam or preserves
5 small fresh apricots

For topping:

1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated suagr
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Flaky sea salt, like Maldon

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom 

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witloof May 18, 2015
TOO sweet, not two. Yikes. {And Red Jacket is at the Union Square Greenmarket.}
witloof May 18, 2015
I think you just haven't eaten a really good apricot. You live in NYC, right? When Red Jacket Orchards' apricots are in season, there is nothing better, but you have to catch them just right. I like them a little underripe so that they are not mealy or two sweet, but have a nice tart firmness. If you haven't yet experienced Amanda's mother's peach tart, try making it with apricots. SO DELICIOUS. I make it every year on my birthday, gluten free diet be damned.