I was going to post last week right after the Super Bowl. A full critique of the game, the commercials and of course the food (best part) I was munching on during the game. I admit, I was rooting for the Atlanta Falcons and for a while I thought just maybe the underdog might win. In the end it was not meant to be, Brady and Belichick worked their magic and pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback in history. What a game, I needed the week to recover.
I volunteered to bring munchies and dessert to my friend Sarah’s house for the game. Since Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts are my “flavor of the month” munchie that was an easy choice. For something sweet I found a recipe on Epicurious for Apricot Orange Bars that sounded so scrumptious I jumped at the chance to make them. A shortbread crust topped with apricot jam and finished off a delicious almond crumb topping, yep, making them.
The recipe is straight forward. The shortbread crust is made first by creaming the butter & sugar, adding the dry ingredients and mixing only until it just comes together. 1 cup is reserved for the crumble topping. The dough is very easy to work with. It was a bit tricky incorporating the almond paste into the dough for the crumble. I ended up putting the mixture in the freezer for about 10 minutes and lightly pulsing it in my food processor to create a uniform crumble and break up the almond paste (a trick I picked up from another bar cookie recipe). I also decreased the almond extract in the crust, 1 teaspoon seemed like a lot so I used half and it was fine. An hour seemed like a long time to bake these but then I thought you aren’t pre-baking the crust so it is probably fine. It was. In fact I was cautious and pulled the pan out a little early and it probably could have used a couple more minutes. There are 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier in the filling, a hefty amount. It does give the filling a nice punch but surprisingly isn’t overbearing. My friend Stephanie, an avowed hater of Grand Marnier, liked these bars quite a bit..so there you go.
- Recipe from Epicurious.com
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 3 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (packed) almond paste (from 7-ounce roll), crumbled
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan; line bottom and sides of pan with parchment paper, extending over sides. Butter parchment. Mix preserves and orange liqueur in small bowl; set aside.
- Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in almond extract. Add flour and salt; beat just until blended. Transfer 1 cup of dough to another small bowl; add crumbled almond paste and mix with fingertips until small clumps form. Mix in 1/4 cup sliced almonds; set aside for topping.
- Press remaining dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Spread preserves mixture evenly over. Using fingertips, coarsely crumble topping over preserves, then sprinkle 1/4 cup almonds over. Press topping lightly into preserves.
- Bake shortbread until top and crust edges are golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool completely in pan on rack. Using parchment paper as aid, lift shortbread from pan. Cut shortbread into 4 equal strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 8 small bar cookies. (Can be prepared ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)
They are really delicious and easy to make. You can find almond paste at most supermarkets. Do not mistake marzipan, which is sweetened, for almond paste. These bars were a hit at the Super Bowl party regardless of which team people were rooting for and they’re lovely looking too. Win-Win.
P.S. Props to AirBnB for their commercial, awesome. Budweiser’s and Audi’s equal pay (GoAudi). I liked Cam Newton’s Big Game Buick, Melissa McCarthy’s Kia and Squarespace’s John Malkovich for chuckles.