““I cooked this twice because the first time it was gone in just a few hours! Your recipe is so incredibly good! Thank you Sue.” ~ Alexandra
Sometimes it makes my head spin how fast the seasons come and go. It’s already apricot season again, if you can believe it. I can’t complain, though, because they’re my favorite fruit for baking. They have a firm texture, just enough juiciness, and a great tart flavor. They work really well for bars like these because that flavor doesn’t get muffled by all those wonderful frangipane crumbles.
Truth is, when I eat apricots I think of my mom. She died almost 21 years ago. Way too early for her, and way too early for me. An entire person could have grown up and blossomed in that gaping span of time. I know that because she died just after my youngest daughter was born, and she’s turning 21 next month.
I think of my mom because the last thing I made for her right before she died was a fresh apricot tart. Her cancer had hit that critical point where it was so widespread there was nothing anyone could do for her. And because of all the medication and radiation treatments she had no appetite left for anything. One of the things that bugged her the most was that nothing tasted good. Nothing appealed to her, and it seemed like all the pleasures of life were slowly draining from her body and spirit. But, as it turned out, she devoured my apricot tart, and it gave her one last unexpected burst of enjoyment. That’s the enduring detail, anyway, from those last few days that has stayed with me ever since.
It just shows you the power that really good ingredients, cooked from scratch, can have. Of course working with a passion and a purpose doesn’t hurt. If your apricots are ripe and vaguely local, these apricot frangipane crumble bars won’t disappoint you.
Frangipane is a classic French filling made with ground almonds. The flavor and texture is one of the greats. It’s usually made with eggs, too, but I left them out because I’m going for a crisper shortbread texture in these bars.
Apricots, like so many fruits, actually get better and more intensely flavored after they’re baked. My APRICOT PIE is a great example of that, it’s probably the best pie I’ve ever had. Cooked apricots also feature in my 5-MINUTE STONE FRUIT BREAKFAST CRISP and in my APRICOT TURNOVERS.
Apricot Frangipane Crumble Bars
- 8×8 square baking pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste , or extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup almond flour, or almond meal (you can grind your own almonds in a processor)
- 7 apricots, pitted and thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 large lemon
- 1 cup reserved shortbread dough
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Set oven to 350°F
- Cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add in the extracts.
- Whisk together the salt, flour and almond meal, and add it slowly to the butter and sugar until you get a crumbly dough. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture for the topping.
- Line an 8×8 inch square baking dish with parchment paper, with edges overlapping the sides if you want to remove the squares from the pan for easier cutting. If not, lightly grease the pan. Pat the dough into the bottom with your hands, or use the back of a measuring cup to tamp down the dough. Don't pack it down super hard, just get it spread out and relatively flat.
- Arrange the apricot slices evenly over the top of the dough. Double up a little if you want.
- Squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the apricots.
- Make the crumble topping by mixing the sliced almonds with the reserved dough. Lightly mix with your fingertips, forming large crumbs. Scatter the crumbs evenly over the apricots.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until lightly golden.
- Cool slightly before cutting.