This, my friends, is one of my all time favorite recipes. I made these bars for the first time a few years ago and have made them many times since then. Of course I love them because they taste amazing, but the main reason I love them is because they remind me of my childhood. I have loved apricots since the first day my mom fed me my first spoon of apricot baby food. Apricot baby food was my favorite! Its sweet and tart flavor trumped any other baby food, so of course there were many disagreements over me not wanting to eat anything else - so my mom says. :)
These bars are so incredibly moist, sweet and easy to make. The sweet apricots are the perfect balance against the nutty and chewy crust. These are oat bars, which are often synonymous with being healthy. But that's all relative here... They have oats, nuts and apricots plus two very necessary sticks of butter. So.very.good...
Here is what you need and what to do: (makes 24 bars)
Vegetable cooking spray
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
13 oz jar apricot jam or preserves
8 dried apricots, chopped into small pieces
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch metal baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper. Let the parchment paper hang over the sides of the pan. This will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan once they are cooled. Spray the parchment paper with the cooking spray. Set aside.
2. To make the filling: Add the apricot jam and the dried apricots to a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
3. To make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda together. Stir in the oats and the walnuts. Add the egg and the melted butter. Stir the mixture until just combined.
4. Add half of the crust mixture to the bottom of the baking pan. Using clean hands (they work best here) to spread out the crust. It may not seem like enough, but it is! Keep spreading... Pour the filling over the crust and spread it out using a spatula. Leave about a 1/2 inch border around the sides. Add the other half of the crust mixture on top of the filling. Gently spread it out using clean hands.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Cool in the pan for 1 hour. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Image by me