The Third Time's the Charm: Smitten Kitchen Apricot Pistachio Squares

I've already made several attempts at apricot-pistachio desserts this year, and so far I've been disappointed. I tried a BBC Good Food recipe for Apricot and Pistachio Frangipane Blondies -- twice -- and both times I got a soggy mess. I tried Nigel Slater's Cherry Pistachio Tart, substituting apricots for the cherries, and ended up with something that was just okay. So when I saw that Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen had a recipe for Apricot Pistachio Squares, and fresh apricots were still available at the farmers market, I had to give it a try.

The recipe is written to be baked in a 8-inch square pan but I doubled it and baked it in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. You make the crust in the food processor by mixing flour, salt, sugar, and cold butter until a dough forms. You press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a parchment-lined pan, bake the crust until lightly golden, and let it cool.

For the pistachio frangipane, you mix pistachios, sugar, flour, and salt in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground; add cubed butter; and then add an egg and almond extract. I spread the frangipane on the cooled crust and then arranged sliced apricots on top. I decided to slice the apricots into quarters and I laid them out in neat rows. Because the recipe says that you need a pound of apricots for an 8-inch square pan, I sliced two pounds of apricots for my 9-inch by 13-inch pan. I packed them in tightly and overlapped the fruit so that there were no gaps, but I couldn't fit all of the apricots into the pan. I had quite a few leftover that I was happy to snack on while the bars were in the oven.
I let the bars cool completely and stored them in the fridge overnight before cutting them. I was able to get tidy bars with clean cuts and I was delighted to see that the crust was golden brown all the way through. These bars so were good. Each component was delicious: the buttery firm crust, the dense and intensely-flavored frangipane, and the bright and juicy apricots. And all of the proportions and the balance of flavors was just right. My favorite part was the decadent frangipane, but the apricots really shine in these bars too. This was my favorite apricot dessert of the season.

Recipe: "Apricot Pistachio Squares" from Smitten Kitchen.

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