Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oh darn, I did it again (Brandied Apricot Bars)

Surely I'm not alone in having an occasional baking failure, or my idiosyncrasies. I rarely have an actual cooking "failure." But, this was a close call! One of my greatest cooking failings is that I don't read the directions completely before plunging into the preparation. This time was no exception. But, hey, it's a cookie, and what's a little extra sugar, right?

Last time I made these, probably two years ago, after they were finished I even went into my recipe software and re-arranged the recipe, separating the ingredients for the bar part, the syrup part and the glaze part. So that I wouldn't do exactly when I repeated - again - today. But did I print out the recipe and toss the old one? You can guess, can't you? No. I didn't. Dummy. Idiot that I am. So this morning, as usual, always with 101 things on my mind (gotta finish this quickly, need to pay some bills, make the bed, finish my makeup) before I leave for a luncheon. I did READ the ingredients. But I glossed over the directions about separating the sugar portion (some of the sugar goes in the syrup).

This recipe is a favorite (when I make it) of my friend, Cherrie. She's an excellent cook, but she isn't a baker, so she relies on her friends who are bakers (uh, yea, that's me and others, I assume) to give her some goodies. And sometimes I give her a little bag of cookies which she parcels out in her DH Bud's lunch bag. I gave her one of my Bishop's Breads I made before Christmas. (I don't mean to be going on and on about my Bishop's Bread - it's just that Cherrie has learned to love this like I do.) Just a slice with her afternoon tea. So when one of her friends called to tell me she was having a birthday luncheon for Cherrie today, I thought - oh, I'll make a batch of those Brandied Apricot Bars for her. That will make Cherrie very, very happy. She adores these things. More than I do, actually. I mean, they're really good, but she would happily cross a glacier to get ahold of these, and she doesn't "do" cold. Of all the things I bake, these cookies may be her very favorite.

It could be the little rolling warmth that emanates from your gullet after chewing one - after all, it does have brandy in it. Not cooked much, either. Supposedly the alcohol is cooked off when you heat alcohol to a boil, but since this is apricot brandy you use, it's potent stuff and I'm sure there is still alcohol remaining, because I sure do get warmth in my mouth, throat and tummy when I eat these. Back when I made these the first time, Cherrie was actually staying with us for awhile. She and I were both having sleeping issues, often waking up in the middle of the night, not able to sleep (my reason was that I was taking Claritin-D; once I stopped taking that, I began sleeping better). But back then, if she heard me up, we'd meet in the kitchen, whispering so we wouldn't wake up my DH, and tiptoe with a tea tray into our living room, light the fire and have some Earl Gray and one of these bars. Or maybe two. At 6:30 am, or so, my DH would wander out, sleep in his eyes and say what in the world are you two doing? He learned eventually - if I wasn't in the bed with him when he awoke, I'd be in the living room with tea and a fire, or in my office playing some mindless solitaire.

So, back to today and too much sugar. What to do, what to do? I was already fully into the batter when I re-read the directions. That's when I discovered my mistake. Oops. I had put a scant cup of white sugar into the batter. So, I cut down some on the brown sugar (about half) and used less sugar in the brandy mixture. The lemon juice topping requires a certain amount of sugar - otherwise it would turn out too sour, so I really couldn't reduce the powdered sugar there. I also made these in a 9x13 Pyrex pan, so baked them slightly longer, and it made 32 bars, not 36. But even with all my bad reading and chemistry juggling, they turned out just fine. Amazing. And Cherrie was really tickled (see big smile below) with my plate of cookies. All for her, with a little bite for everybody else at the luncheon.

So, the recipe below, for these tummy-warming bars, is the corrected one. Note to self: print out the gosh-darned corrected recipe and put it in your file! (done!)

Brandied Apricot Bars
Recipe: Adapted by me from a Sunset Magazine article, 1996
Serving Size : 36
7 tbsp butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups dried apricots -- minced
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup apricot brandy -- or Cointreau
3 tsp lemon juice
4 tsp lemon juice
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1. Batter: preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and brown sugar with mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add orange peel and vanilla.
2. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Stir into butter mixture along with apricots and raisins.
3. Pour batter into lightly buttered 10x15 inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until cookie is lightly browned and springs back in center. If using a 9x13 pan, bake for about 25 minutes. Set on rack to cool.
4. Apricot Syrup - Just before bars are done, combine 1/3 cup sugar, brandy, and 3 tsp lemon juice in sauce pan. Bring to boil over high heat, remove and when bars comes from oven, spoon warm apricot syrup evenly over it. Let cool completely, then cut into 3 dozen equal pieces and leave in pan.
5. Lemon Icing - mix 4 teaspoons lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle over the cookies. Once drizzle is sort-of dried, remove bars from pan. Serving Ideas : Originally a cookie, I think these make an equally interesting dessert. But, whichever, they're great with a cup of coffee or tea.
NOTES : When making the final glaze, add enough powdered sugar to make the glaze fairly firm - otherwise the bars are too soft and difficult to hold in your hand(it will ooze the glaze) and they're hard to store. Serve immediately or store airtight up to 2 days; freeze to store longer. If storing or freezing, separate layers with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Originally the bar called for more butter and sugar, but I reduced the amounts, as well as the amount of apricots and raisins.

Per Serving: 132 Calories; 6g Fat (38.9% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 93mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. Printer-friendly recipe, click title at top.

1 comment:

Toffeeapple said...

Well, Doesn't Cherrie look pleased with herself? I think you should too, for turning around a possible disaster! I'm sure you'll do it correctly next time.