Apricot Fruit Spread
My Grandpa John’s favorite jam was apricot. The last couple years of his life, I had more conversations with him about jam than anything else. He loved jam! He used to provide instruction on how small to cut the fruit into “small, small, small pieces”. I didn’t mention that I knew he had never make a batch of jam in his life. I just listened and promised to send more, along with another tin of Almond Roca. As my Grandma would say, “Grandpa is a choco-holic”. Then she would laugh at her own joke, like every time.
Grandpa, Danny and Rachel circa 1985 ish
It turns out that apricot jam is also my brother Danny’s favorite. When I told him I made some for Grandpa he said “Wait, you can make apricot jam?!? That’s my favorite! I’ve been buying is for years!” I was like, puh-lease, I can make any kind of jam. Why didn’t you tell me (if I’m being honest, I followed it with some comment like “you dork”).
Aunt Becky’s Apricot Fruit Spread is make with two ingredients: Robata apricots and organic cane sugar. That’s it.
LA Weekly Blogs: What’s in Season at the Farmer’s Market: Apricot Flame Wars + Tenerelli is Back describes Robata apricots perfectly. “The sun-exposed skins redden with a heavy blush, making some of the fruits almost half red and stunning. Size-wise they’re practically a handful, rivaling some nectarines we purchased earlier. But here’s where the Robada shines. Imagine getting the mouthful of flavor that you’d find in a dried apricot — a potent concentrated mouthful of sugar and well-balanced tarty zing — but in the juicy and fresh flesh of a just-picked fruit. Refractometer readings put the sugar of a ripe Robada near 20 brix. For reference, that’s nearly the sugar level of a good pineapple. Now add elderflowers and honeysuckle. And on the finish, a slightest bitterness that reminds you of juniper berries. It’s a flavor you sit with after each bite, and there are about five of them with each fruit. You have to slow down and pay attention. The size requires that you bite into it, not just pop the whole thing in your mouth. The firmness requires that you chew, slowly releasing all its nuance. The color appeals to the eye. And the scent is floral and complex.” Yup, that’s them.
Back to the jam. Robada apricots and organic cane sugar simmer in a big pot on the stove for at least 30 minutes. The resulting Apricot Fruit Spread is slightly less thick than flavors including pectin. Refrigerated, the apricot fruit spread is perfect on morning toast with a rich, concentrated flavor. One customer described it as tasting “like a fresh apricot”.
Apricot Almond Coconut Bars
When I was a auditor, I used to bake cookies for my clients. It gave me an opportunity to try out new recipes without eating a whole batch of cookies. It also really sweetened them up. As a financial auditor, I arrived at my clients’ offices annually to check the work of their internal accountants and make sure their financial statements were correct. They were not pleased to see me or co-workers. Some of my audits lasted for weeks; weeks of endless questioning by a persistent auditor with nothing but questions! The questions took them away from their regular jobs which still needed to be done. Then I always asked for much more than originally expected, so my clients were often behind in completing requests. In order to “encourage” them, I baked cookies. I had one recipe for toffee, chocolate chip, pecan bars that were so delicious and sought-after that they would ask for more. I nick-named them “crack cookies”. Like a drug dealer, I would make a batch of cookies at the beginning of an audit or during planning to get them hooked. Later, I would promise a new batch if they provided the information I needed to do my job and finish more quickly. Like I said, those cookies really sweetened them up! (Recipe for Toffee, Chocolate Chip, Pecan Bar Cookies)
Apricot Almond Coconut Bars are my newest “crack cookies”. They highlight Aunt Becky’s Apricot Jam. I whipped up a batch on Thursday night for the Farmers’ Market on Friday. I won’t say that I received any serious marriage proposals, but I did get more than one request to come home with someone or a family to bake for them. I had to promise several customers to post the recipe ASAP so they could make their own. Normally when I share a new recipe, I take multiple pictures during the process. Due to the circumstances, I only have a photo of the remaining samples lumped together on a plate. Their form is slightly less than my best, but trust me, it doesn’t affect the flavor. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee in my Mary Poppins mug and eating these cookies for breakfast. It’s Saturday! My pond fountain and a local blue jay are providing background songs while I sit in my garden and write this post.
Recipe for Apricot Almond Coconut Bars
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tbsp. milk
- 1 cup apricot preserves (1 jar Aunt Becky’s Apricot Fruit Spread)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups coconut
- 1/2 cups sliced almonds
- Combine flour and baking powered in a bowl
- Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs
- In a small bowl, combine egg and milk
- Stir into flour mixture
- Grease 9×9 pan
- Spread flour mixture into pan (flour your hands a bit if the dough is sticky)
- Spread Aunt Becky’s Apricot Fruit Spread over crust
- Combine egg, sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, coconut and almonds
- Using a spoon or just your hands, drop the topping over the apricot layer
- Optional – lick off your hands
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown
- The “official” directions say to cool on a wire rack and cut into small bars. Yeah right!
- Use a spoon to scoop a piping hot portion in to a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream. Do it right away!
- Cool the rest until room temperature then cover and refrigerate to make the cleanest cuts
Adapted from Taste of Home Apricot Bars
Now, I guess you could make these Apricot Almond Coconut Bars from a regular store bought jar of jam. But it won’t really taste the same. You won’t get the Robata flavor and the concentrated apricot goodness. So get yourself a jar of Aunt Becky’s Apricot Fruit Spread before it sells out.