Sunday, April 10, 2011

Almond Apricot Bars

There's always a little sweet in our house. This one is buttery, not too sweet, with a jammy centre that tastes of summer. It can be glazed with some icing sugar and milk, but I prefer it plain. That crumbly topping - my favorite.

I found a recipe several years ago on the Land o' Lakes site, called Almond Strawberry Bars. I've adapted it considerably and am pleased with the results.

1 1/4 cups flour (All-purpose flour is fine, but I like a combination, about 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup white, all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar, not too firmly packed

3/4 cup apricot jam (or any flavor of jam - thus, the name is flexible)

2 Tablespoons butter (in addition to the 1/2 cup)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar (in addition to the 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

In mixer or food processor, combine the flour, and first amount of butter and brown sugar. Pulse until crumbly, but will cling together when pressed. 

Remove 2/3 cup of the mixture and press the remainder into the bottom of a 9 inch square glass pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

While hot, spread the jam over top. 

Combine the reserved crust mixture with the additional butter and brown sugar, the almond extract and the sliced almonds. Sprinkle over top of jam.

Return to oven and continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool completely, then cut into small squares to serve.

I realized while typing this that I neglected to add the almonds to the crumb mixture. So they don't show in the picture. Sigh. Everything's better with almonds.

Crunchy Granola

My husband's go-to breakfast is a bowl of granola topped with a few blackberries. We pick them in late summer and freeze bags of them for winter. Sometimes he thaws them out a little in the microwave, most often he eats them frozen. They thaw quickly when milk is poured on them.

Granola is something I've always made. I've gone through several recipes, this is the latest rendition. It's simple, has minimal ingredients, but the add-ins are limited only by your taste.

Crunchy Granola

9 cups whole oats (I use wild oats when I can find them) (rolled oats work as well - they just don't have the same "chew" factor)
2/3 to 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2/3 cup melted butter, or a combination of butter/margarine and canola oil (I use a combination - using about half butter gives a wonderful taste and contributes to the crunch factor)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together the oats, nuts and cinnamon in a large, ungreased baking pan. I use a 10 x 15 Pyrex baking dish. A rimmed baking sheet would work as well.

Melt the butter, add the honey and oil, and heat until liquid. Pour over the oats and stir to combine thoroughly.

Bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. When cool, add in extras, if desired.

Serve with milk or yogurt, or applesauce. Top with berries

coconut, dried cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots, sunflower or pumpkin seeds