Apricot-Rosemary Squares
One 9-inch (23cm) (23cm) pan
Adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito I tweaked the recipe just slightly. I added a few swipes of fresh lemon zest to the dough, which added a little bit of zing to compliment the fresh rosemary. For those with a flair for the exotic, it might be fun to try these also with freshly ground cardamom (1 teaspoon) in place of the rosemary to take them in a different direction. My topping came out a bit more crumbly than those at the bakery, probably because I thought the topping needed more nuts than indicated in the recipe. Which taught me not to mess with success. I had some leftover white wine that I used in place of the water for poaching the apricots which gave them a more complex flavor so you can use either. But I agree with the authors that California dried apricots are much, much better than their sweeter counterparts from other countries. So try to use them if possible. If you can’t get them, add the juice of half a lemon to the poaching liquid.
For the rosemary dough:
12 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/2 cup (70g) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of half a lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 3/4 cups (250g) flour
For the apricot filling:
2 cups (8 ounces, 230g) California dried apricots
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water or white wine
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (60g) honey
2 tablespoons brandy
pinch of salt
For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup (70g) flour
1/2 cup (95g) packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (40g) pecans or almonds, coarsely chopped
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, cubed, chilled
1. Line a 9-inch (23cm) square pan with aluminum foil then butter the insides or spray with cooking spray.
(In the original recipe, the authors said to grease the pan then line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan.)
2. Make the rosemary dough by creaming the butter with the powdered sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, until it’s light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and rosemary, then gradually add in the 1 3/4 cup (250g) flour, mixing until the dough is smooth.
3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and pat it flat into the bottom of the pan using lightly floured hands. Refrigerate the dough-lined pan for at least 30 minutes.
(No need to wash the mixer bowl; you can use it as is for the crumb topping in step #7.)
4. Make the apricot filling by combining the apricots, water (or wine), granulated sugar, honey, brandy, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until all the liquid has just about been absorbed. Let cool for a few minutes, stirring, then puree in a food processor until smooth.
5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
6. Baked the rosemary shortbread for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Once baked, let the shortbread cool to room temperature.
7. Make the crumb topping by mixing together the 1/2 cup (70g) flour, brown sugar, nuts, salt, and butter in the bowl of the stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, until the mixture just barely starts clumping together.
8. Spread the apricot filling over the shortbread in the pan evenly, then top with the crumb topping and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping is browned.
9. Remove from oven and let bars cool completely in pan.
To slice, lift the bars out of the pan by grasping the edges of the foil. Slice into squares.

Storage: The bars can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Variation: For those of you wishing to use a different dried fruit, the yield on the apricot paste was 2 cups (about 500g), in case you wish to make a substitution.