I just moved to Los Angeles this past summer, leaving family, friends and a wonderful group of food bloggers in Minneapolis. This will be my first sunny Southern California Christmas, and I know I will make these bar cookies and remember the loving friendships I have across the miles.
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus 3 tablespoons chilled butter (cut into cubes), divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from ½ lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/4 cups (9.6 ounces) flour, divided
2 cups dried apricots
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons spiced rum
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with foil and grease with butter.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the room temperature butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes over low speed. Beat in one-half teaspoon salt, vanilla, zest and rosemary. Slowly incorporate 1¾ cups flour.
3. Using lightly floured hands, press the dough into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Bake the shortbread until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
5. While the shortbread is cooling, cook the apricot mixture: In a small, heavy-bottomed pan, combine the apricots, water, granulated sugar, honey, rum and remaining one-eighth teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool, then purée in a food processor until smooth. Spread the cooled apricot mixture over the cooled shortbread. Heat the oven once more to 350 degrees.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the dark brown sugar, almonds and remaining 3 tablespoons chilled butter with the remaining one-half cup flour, and beat until it begins to clump together.
7. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apricot layer, then bake until the topping is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving.