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Today is a rainy, chilly fall day. It seems like every day I work, it is gorgeous outside; every day I am off, it rains. I have great luck! Haha… One thing today is good for- stripping tobacco. Damp but not drenched, cool but not freezing. And the weather seems like it is going to hang around.

For those who aren’t familiar with tobacco, it is grown to maturity, cut and then hung on sticks in a barn, where it dries into crispy, brown leaves. Because these leaves are so fragile, they have to be removed from the stalks when they are damp and more pliable or “in case”. The pliable leaves are then divided into types and pressed together into a bale that looks similar to a bale of straw. Many, many leaves go into each bale. Days like this remind me of home.

Another thing that reminds me of home things are apricots. My grandmother and I both love dried apricots. These bars showcase apricots and are well worth the effort. Every ingredient compliments each other splendidly. Thanks to Savory Simple for these delightful bars.

Rosemary Apricot Bars

For the rosemary dough:

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the apricot filling:

  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 3/4 cups white wine
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (omit if using California dried apricots)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • pinch of salt

For the crumb topping:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed

Grease the inside of  a 8×8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan. To make the rosemary shortbread, cream the butter, powdered sugar and salt in a stand mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and rosemary, then lower the speed and gradually add the flour until the dough is smooth. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the shortbread for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the apricot filling by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Allow to cool and then puree in a food processor until smooth.

Make the crumb topping by combining all ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until the mixture is just combined and crumbly.  Don’t over-mix, you want texture.

Spread the apricot paste evenly on top of the shortbread. Sprinkle on the topping evenly and gently press it into place.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is brown.