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Author Notes: My favorite feature of these fruity dream squares: the buttery, shortbread-y crust requires no electric mixer, meaning it’s totally ok that you (and I am talking to myself here) have just not bitten the bullet and bought one yet. My least favorite feature: the jam gets hot as HECK when you bake it, so you have to actually wait until they’re cool to enjoy them. It’s torturous, but worth it. —Kendra Vaculin
Makes 16 bars
For the 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 the topping:
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated suagr
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- flaky sea salt, like Maldon
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- For the crust, mix flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix, using clean hands. Mush the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it comes together in a crumbly batter. Dump this into the lined dish and press into an even layer, corner to corner.
- Pop the dish and the crust into the freezer for 15 minutes.
- While the crust is in the freezer, peel your apricots. Use your secret family method if you have one. If you don't: Bring a pot of water to a boil and cut a small X into the bottom of each fruit. Dunk the apricots into the boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. The skin should peel off easily starting from the X. Slice the apricot flesh into small wedges (you’ll have about 1 full cup) and set aside.
- Assemble the topping by dumping all ingredients EXCEPT the salt into a bowl and mushing it together with a fork or your fingers.
- Remove the dish with the crust from freezer and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before coating with the jam/preserves, followed by the fresh slices, spaced to cover. Top that with the oat-y crumble topping. Return to the oven for 25 minutes.
- Sprinkle flaky sea salt over the top of the bars. Don’t skip this! That hit of salt cuts through the fruity sweetness in a killer way. Allow to cool completely before cutting so that the jam and fruit can set.
- If you, like me, are a disciple of the super cold cookie, you will find these spectacular straight from the freezer.