Apricot Pistachio Squares

by Rachel Baker on August 11, 2014

We found the other day that Pistachios have some pretty incredible health benefits; and have decided to ensure we incorporate these wonderful nuts into our diets on a pretty regular basis. Two nights ago, when we were eating a wonderful cantaloupe with a sprinkling of salt and some lemon juice, I suddenly thought, “this would be fantastic with ground up pistachio!”

One bite cantaloupe, two pistachio nuts – into my mouth they went, eyes closed, savoring the taste, wondering what else would be an amazing salivary experience. I vaguely remembered a trail mix I had once that combined dried apricots and pistachios into a truly sublime bite of yumminess, so off I went this morning, to find the perfect apricot and pistachio recipe.

This recipe below is from Deb at the smittenkitchen.com. I have had the smittenkitchen on my radar for quite a while, but hadn’t actually ever really ventured over. Besides having some truly amazing looking recipes, Deb is hilarious. I was very happy have wasted half an hour going through her site. Eventually, I will get a copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and review it over at Old Musty Books; but in the meantime, I’m going to get some apricots and more pistachios and make me and mine some lovely apricot pistachio squares. If they come out great, I’ll be adding them to my holiday cooking list!

I’ve been in a bit of a fervor this summer over the apricots from Red Jacket Orchards. I shared a photo of them the other day and someone asked me what I was going to make with them and I was confused. Make? With apricots? Why on earth would you make something with apricots, when you could eat them as-is, even four in a row as my son did before my dropped jaw yesterday. But then the next wave of procrastination hit and why, yes, making something with apricots was a brilliant idea!

In another era of my life, this would have been a tart. I would have made a tart shell and pressed it into a fluted, removable bottom tart pan, trimmed the overhand, pricked it all over with a fork, filled it with pie weighs and par-baked it before filling it elegantly. This all feels way too fussy for my current lifestyle — and by “lifestyle” I mean “barely managed chaos” — and so I made bar cookies instead. Bar cookies are your friend. The crust can be whizzed up in a food processor and pressed into the bottom. You parbake it with no docking and no pie weights, and while it’s in the oven, you use the bowl of your food processor that you didn’t even wash (because la dee da, it doesn’t matter) to grind the pistachio frangipane filling.

Frangipane is usually made with almonds; frangipane is delicious with almonds. But what I really want to eat with apricots is nubby green pistachios, and so I made a pistachio paste instead. As the sole purpose of this baked good was to allow me to avoid handling the real things in my life that need to be handled, and I was very distracted while baking it, my expectations were very low for the results. I figured it would be a disaster and one day, preferably in my new kitchen, I’d make it again properly. But the kitchen faeries were with me — it’s like they wanted me to willfully ignore my to-do list! And who am I to argue with faeries?! — and these are actually wonderful, buttery and rich but not too sweet. For a bar cookie, they are downright elegant. As a way to evade a big looming deadlines, astoundingly effective. Now, who wants to come over and help us pack?

apricot pistachio squares

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