Stone Fruit Season
“Adam fluttered like a bewildered bee confused by too many flowers.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
When stone fruit comes in season it’s easy to get carried away. I bought too many apricots. Just couldn’t help myself. There wasn’t enough fruit for a pie, but there was just enough for this recipe. I used a combination of very soft and sweet and just ripe tangy apricots. Any ripe summer fruit would be wonderful—blueberries, blackberries, peaches, strawberries.
Most recipes for fruit bars use jam instead of fresh fruit. My inspiration was this intriguing recipe that uses both fruit and jam. I’ve added a creamy ricotta layer spiked with lemon zest, included oat flour and a lot more oatmeal. Using brown sugar adds depth to the caramel notes of the oatmeal. The bars are not overly sweet which allows the vivid and bright apricots to remain the star of this recipe. Don’t skip the creamy ricotta filling, it’s a hint of cheesecake hiding inside the buttery apricot bars. I might buy too many apricots again, just so I can make this recipe before the season ends.
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|1C||unsalted butter, melted|
|1/2C||quick cooking oats|
|Apricot and Ricotta Filling|
|1C||fresh ricotta cheese|
|1/4t||fine grain sea salt|
|2-1/2C||diced fresh apricots|
|1/4t||fine grain sea salt|
|1C||quick cooking oats|
|1/3C||unsalted butter, melted|
- Heat the oven to 375°. Line a 9”x12” baking pan with parchment.
- To make the crust add the all-purpose flour, oat flour, salt and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl. Mix with a fork or your hands to break up any lumps of brown sugar while mixing the ingredients together. Add the butter and stir until the mixture clumps together. Add the oats and combine them with the other ingredients. Spread and press the crust mixture evenly across the surface of the prepared baking pan. Make sure the corners and sides of the pan are evenly covered with the crust. Place the pan in the freezer for fifteen minutes. Then bake for fifteen minutes and remove from the oven to cool for five minutes before adding the filling. Leave the oven on. (The bowl used to make the crust can be used again to make the crumb topping.)
- In a separate bowl make the ricotta filling while the crust is in the freezer, baking and cooling. Mix together the ricotta, sugar, egg, salt and lemon zest.
- To make the crumb topping mix together the all-purpose flour, oat flour, salt, brown sugar and oats in a small bowl. Stir in the melted butter and mix all the ingredients together.
- To assemble the bars spread the ricotta mixture evenly across the surface of the partly baked crust. Add the jam and swirl to cover the entire surface of the cookies. Spread the diced apricots evenly across the top of the cookies. Top the bars with the crumb topping. Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes. The edges of the bars will turn a toasty brown when done and the ricotta filling will be firm.
- Let the bars cool in the pan for ten minutes. Then remove them from the baking pan by lifting out the parchment paper. Cool completely before slicing. To keep the ricotta filling fresh wrap the cooled bars tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Take the chill off the cold bars with a very brief spin in the microwave.
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