Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dried Fruit Bars

I know this has happened to you.
There was definitely a reason you bought those dried blueberries. And dried cranberries make great stuffing at Thanksgiving. But now it's May, and you have a dozen open bags of dried fruit, getting crunchier every day. Surely the kids will be thrilled to eat those figs in their lunches! Hahahahahaha. Get out a big saucepan; you can have these cookies baking in fifteen minutes.

Dried Fruit Bars

1 stick of butter
1 C white sugar
2 eggs
1 C flour
pinch salt
2 C dried fruit,  chopped
1 C chopped nuts
2 t vanilla extract OR 3 T Amaretto

Since there is still a little space left in my freezer, I doubled the recipe. I can't make more hours in the day, but I can make sure that this one is more productive.

One batch had figs, dates and pistachios.
The other had apricots, raisins and almonds.
Obviously, I go grocery shopping on my way home from the gym when I'm starving. Why else would I have such a ridiculous variety of dried food? Anyway, don't go out and buy anything special for this recipe. Just chuck in whatever you have to get rid of. And if you don't have nuts or just don't like them, use another cup of dried fruit. Everyone else is making Duncan Hines -  your family ought to be bloody grateful that you are baking at all!

First, melt the butter and sugar together in your saucepan for about four minutes, or until it's not too grainy. Remember, my recipe is doubled.
Take it off the heat and let it cool for a moment. Then stir in the eggs one at a time. Now is not the time to answer the door for the HVAC man, because you will end up with lumps of scrambled eggs in there - trust me on this one. Lastly, stir in the rest of the ingredients to make a thick batter.
I think Amaretto is great in baked goods. My husband thinks it tastes like Ladies Night at a cheap bar. So, I use vanilla, but sometimes I sneak in a quarter teaspoon of almond extract. Consult a marriage counselor if you have to spend more than 45 seconds weighing this decision.
Line a 9" square pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Or an 8" square, or a round pan - don't get hung up here. Just dump the batter in and spread it out.
Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until the top crust is brown, but still gives a little when you press your finger into it.

If you want to serve this to company, cool on the counter for an hour, and then put it in the fridge for several hours, since cold bar cookies slice evenly. Otherwise, I recommend doing some aggressive quality control testing soon after you take it out of the oven. BUT, remember that this has substantial quantities of dried fruit in every bar. If you eat six of them, you might feel it later. Just sayin'. On the plus side, it's easy to convince yourself this is health food. A person might even eat them for breakfast. Hypothetically.

I think these are prettiest if you divide the pan in thirds, and then slice each section into finger-widths that show the fruit and nuts.

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