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Sunday, November 1, 2009
As October gives way to November, that non-plussed 'it's ok, we still have time' easiness gets a jolt from reality. The head starts to throb as the year to date sales is still 40% behind budget, the business calendar is still filled with travel plans all the way to 20th Dec and the imminent loom of 2010 sends a cruel reminder that I will be turning into an ancient hag....
It is still a little early to take stock of what I have done with the year but just about the right time to experiment with Christmas treats. For giveaways, cookies have always been my favourite choice - they keep longer and are easier to scale up. I remember working with Linzer Cookies and Guimauves last year but was less skilled at baking then. Blogging over the last couple of months has made me more meticulous when I bake/cook as I terribly want my food to look good for the photos. So hopefully, this year, my treats will be more presentable.
These Apricot Oatmeal Bars are adapted from the very talented Joycelyn Shu's Christmas Cookie Class. Joycelyn's creations have always filled me with awe. She is uber meticulous and is amazing with details but she also has a tooth that is so saccharin sweet that I half suspect that she was an ant in her previous life.
Apart from cutting down the amount of sugar in the oatmeal crumble by a whopping 70% , I also chose to make my own Apricot filling. I had liked Pierre Herme's treatment of the dried apricots in his Apricot Passion Fruit Chocolate Tartlet. I had liked the way he steeped the dried apricot in a mixture of lemon juice, a dash of honey and a pinch of freshly ground pepper.The steeped apricots pureed beautifully into a thick paste and offers a healthy substitute to bottled preserves and jams.
The end result is a scrumptiously crumbly oatmeal bar filled with the natural sweetness of dried apricots. I can't wait to test them on my colleagues tomorrow!
130g All purpose plain flour
90g Quick Cooking Oats
40g Light brown muscovado sugar
120g Unsalted butter chilled and cut into small cubes
70g Chopped Pistachios
170g Dried apricots
1/2 cup Water
3Tbsp Lemon juice
Dash of freshly ground pepper
1. Place all ingredients of Apricot filling into a heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10minutes. Remove apricot from heat and let it steep for at least 1 hour. Pour content into a blender and puree to paste.
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. Mix all dried ingredients of crumble except for pistachios to well combined. Rub in chilled butter cubes with finger tips until mixture resembles sandy grains.
3. Divide crumble into 2 equal portions. lay a well oiled 8inchx8inch square pan with one portion of crumble.(A baking pan with removable base will make removal of the baked slab easier) Spread the crumble evenly across base of pan and press to compact the crumble. Bake at 180C for 15mins. Keep the other portion of crumble in the chiller.
4, Cool the first layer of crumble before spreading the Apricot filling evenly over it. Add chopped pistachios to the second portion of crumble. Spread this over the Apricot layer. Lightly press to set the top the layer. Bake at 180C for 30mins.
5. Cool baked bar completely at room temperature. Further chill this in the fridge until firm. (at least 2hours)
6. Demould and cut to size.