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KEEP CALM and BAKE COOKIES | Click for more recipes from the 12th annual holiday cookies special

Christmas cookies: Rosemary Apricot Squares

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

¾ teaspoon vanilla

For the apricot filling:

2 cups dried apricots (about 8 ounces)

½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons brandy

Pinch of salt

For the crumb topping:

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

⅓ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Spray a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to just overhang on two sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and rosemary. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Turn mixer to lowest speed and add in flour mixture gradually. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan, lightly flour your clean hands and press the dough into an even layer. Place pan in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the apricot filling: Place the apricots, sugar, honey, brandy and salt in a saucepan with 1 ½ cups of water and simmer over low heat 40 to 50 minutes, or until the apricots are fork-tender and most of the liquid has evaporated or thickened. Scrape the mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth.

To make the crumb topping: In the mixer, combine the flour, brown sugar, pecans and salt. Mix at low speed for 15 seconds. Add the butter and mix until a sandy crumb begins to form, about 1 minute.

To assemble the cookie: Spread apricot filling over the shortbread, then sprinkle the crumb topping over the filling. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crumb mixture has browned. Let the cookie cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan, then lift it out, using the parchment paper overhang, and cut it into bars. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Yield: Makes 16 to 20 bars.

Freezeworthy: No.

Submitted by Mary-Ann Janssen, Dunedin

Mazzaro's Italian Market

Christmas cookies: Rosemary Apricot Squares 12/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 13, 2013 10:16am]

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