We could say we shared ideas with Alice Medrich at one of her famed Bay Area Cocolat stores back in the Seventies or Eighties. We would be lying. We could say we “tweaked” this recipe for Apricot Lemon Bars from Medrich’s latest cookbook, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies. We could tell you how our tweak made it so much better. Again, this would be an untruth. We did substitute walnuts for hazelnuts—only because, while Steve usually has enough nuts around to make several squirrels jealous, hazelnuts were not in our freezer. Other than that, we followed the recipe as written.
The truth is this recipe is quite good. We think it adds a new dimension to lemon squares, even though we’re usually quite fond of the traditional puckery-sweet bars. By adding a bit of apricot jam, however, Medrich softens the sour and creates a creamy bite with the color of butterscotch, making lemon bars even more beautiful to any Gourmandistani’s sweet tooth. Many of Medrich’s earlier books appear to be out of print, but are still available from various sellers on Amazon and elsewhere. We encourage you to check out her latest and see what sweet treasures you may uncover.
APRICOT LEMON BARS
(“adapted,” in the loosest possible meaning of the word, from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies)Crust: 3/4 c. + 2 TB flour 1/4 c. sugar pinch of salt 1/4 c. toasted nuts (we used walnuts, though the original recipe called for hazelnuts) 1 stick (8 TB) butter, melted 1 t. vanilla extract Topping: 1/4 c. sugar 2 TB flour 2 eggs 1/2 c. apricot jam (if it contains large pieces, break up in a mini processor) 1/3 c. lemon juice, strained Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Position an oven rack in the lower part of the oven. Preheat to 350°. Line an 8 x 8″ pan with foil.
Make crust as follows: Place flour, sugar, salt and nuts in a food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely ground, then add melted butter and vanilla. Continue pulsing until mixture begins to form clumps. Remove dough and press evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake crust for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300°.
While crust is baking, mix sugar and flour together in a large bowl. Then, stir in eggs. Add jam, then lemon juice.
Pour filling over crust. Return to oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes longer, until filling is set.
Cool completely in pan on a cooling rack. Then, lift out using the foil liner. Cut into squares. Sift powdered sugar over.