Monday, August 01, 2016

Apricot Pistachio Bars (and how I made the recipe grain free)

I've had this recipe on my to-make list forever. When I found myself with extra apricots, I finally made it (once I tracked down pistachios.)  But I wanted everyone in my household to be able to eat them, so I made them with substitutions for flour and sugar. I'll copy the recipe as is from the amazing Deb at Smitten Kitchen, and make notes below as to what I changed.

Everyone who tried these liked them, including co-workers who don't care about eating lower carb and grain-free.  My husband said he did not think he would ever order it from a bakery case because of the color (green!) but I thought the apricot color was pretty with the pistachio. These were not too sweet, a sophisticated bar.

Apricot Pistachio Squares
(from Deb at Smitten Kitchen)

Yield: 16 or 25 bars, depending on how you cut them

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour*
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar**
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine

3/4 cup (a scant 4 ounces or 110 grams) shelled unsalted pistachios
1 tablespoon (10 grams) all purpose flour*
Few pinches of sea salt
6 tablespoons (75 grams) sugar**
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, 2 teaspoons brandy or another flavoring of your choice (totally optional)
1 pound firm-ripe apricots

To finish
Powdered sugar or 1/4 cup apricot jam***

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (If you have an 8-inch square springform, you can skip this and just butter it well.)

Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — that’s right, just keep running it; it might take 30 seconds to 1 minute for it to come together, but it will. Transfer the dough clumps to your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. For the sake of speed, transfer to a cooling rack in your freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the filing.

Make the filling: In your food processor bowl (which I never bother cleaning between these steps), grind your pistachios, sugar, flour and salt together until the nuts are powdery. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the machine. Run the machine until no buttery bits are visible. Add any flavorings and egg, blending until just combined.

Spread filling over mostly cooled (warmth is okay but it’s hoped that the freezer will have firmed the base enough that you can spread something over it) crust. Cut apricots in half (or, you might find that you can tear them open at the seams with your fingers) and remove pits. From here, you have a few decoration options: you can place the apricot halves in facedown or up all over the pistachio base. You can do as I did, which is cut them into strips, then slide each cut half onto a butter knife or offset spatula, tilt it so that it fans a little, and slide it onto your pistachio filling decoratively.

Bake the bars for 60 minutes, or until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the pistachio portion comes out batter-free. This might take up to 10 minutes longer depending on the juiciness of your apricots and the amount you were able to nestle in. Let cool completely in pan; you can hasten this along in the fridge.

To finish, you can make a shiny glaze for your tart by warming the jam in a small saucepan until it thins, and brushing this mixture over the top of the cooled tart. Or, you can keep it rustic with just a dusting of powdered sugar, as I did.

Cut bars into squares — chilled bars will give you the cleanest cuts. Keep leftover bars chilled.

* - I used a mixture of 2/3 almond flour and 1/3 tigernut flour, mostly because that is what I had in the cupboards!
** - I used coconut sugar instead.
*** - I skipped this step. They were tasty enough without this, and more like a breakfast baked good.

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