Dates lend rich sweetness to these fruit nut cookie bars./Wikimedia Commons
This fruit bar cookie recipe features rich medjool dates, apricots and raisins. The dried fruit is plumped in tea and combined with toasted almonds for a bar cookie that has lots of texture, flavor and personality.
Bar cookies are fast and easy to prepare, even for beginning bakers, which makes them a great choice for your holiday table.
This recipe is from “The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook” by Susan Mahnke Peery. ISBN: 067166588X. This is one of my all-time favorite cookie recipe collections, and is, unfortunately, out of print. Pasadena cookbook expert Janet Jarvits can find it for you.
½ cup chopped medjool dates
¼ cup dried apricots
¼ cup dark raisins
1/3 cup cold, weak tea
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped almonds, lightly toasted
Three hours before baking, soak the dates, apricots and raisins in the tea.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch Pyrex baking pan with no-stick spray and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.
Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.
Add the almonds fruit and any leftover soaking liquid to the dough and stir in by hand.
Press the dough into the prepared pan.
Bake about 30 minutes until lightly browned.
While still warm, but cool enough to handle, cut the cookies into narrow, finger-shaped bars and roll the bars in confectioner’s sugar. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 40 cookies.
- Try soaking the fruit in apple juice or dark rum. Almost any liquid will work that does not have a high acid content. Orange juice, for instance, is too acidic.
- Try other varieties of fruit. Large, showy raisins made from Red Flame grapes are available in LA-area Henry’s Markets. Currants and dried cherries would work well, too,
- The tea should be weak. If it is too strong, it will give the fruit a bitter taste.
- If you’re running short on time, place the dried fruit in a microwave-safe bowl, pour the soaking liquid over it and microwave on high for 30-60 seconds. The fruit will plump in about 10 minutes, but you’ll need to allow time for the fruit to cool completely before adding it to the dough.
- For LA bakers, dates are a local crop. The Coachella Valley is the major producer of dates in the US. Egypt is the largest producer of dates with more than 1 million metric tons grown annually.
If you like easy fruit bars, you’ll love these apricot oatmeal bar cookies.
Visit Cookbooks by Janet Jarvits online or in her store in Pasadena if you’d like to locate a copy of “The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook.”
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