There is something about these Lemon Apricot Walnut Bars that tastes like summertime. They certainly look summery, with their bright yellow-orange apricot filling, though it is the combination of that flavorful filling with the citrusy cookie dough that is what really makes them addictive. They’re tender and slightly chewy, with a little bit of crunch to them from the generous amount of walnuts included in the dough.
The bars use the same buttery cookie dough for both the top and the bottom. The lemon-kissed dough is pressed into an even layer in the bottom of the baking dish and is spread with a generous layer of apricot preserves. The remaining dough – about one third of the total cookie dough – is crumbled and sprinkled over the top of the preserves. Choose a high quality preserve with lots of chunks of fruit in it for the best results in this recipe, rather than a jelly or a jam.
The dough includes oatmeal and a hint of cardamom, in addition to the lemon zest, as well as coarsely chopped walnuts. Walnuts and cardamom both have citrusy notes to them, while the lemon ties them together. The cardamom is optional and you will still get a good result if you don’t use it. I do recommend using fresh lemon zest for the best lemon flavor, although a teaspoon of lemon extract can be used in a pinch, as well.
This recipe makes a big batch of bar cookies and uses a whole jar of apricot preserves. The bars keep very well for several days when stored in an airtight container.
Lemon Apricot Walnut Bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
12 oz apricot preserves (approx 1 jar)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and cardamom. Stir in flour mixture, followed by oatmeal and walnuts.
Take two cups (about 2/3) of the dough and press it into an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. You can use a little extra to patch any holes, though the layer should not be too thick.
Spread apricot preserves into an even layer on top of the base.
Crumble remaining dough with your fingertips and sprinkle evenly over the apricot layer.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bars are lightly browned and apricot filling is bubbling.
Allow to cool completely in the pan, then lift out using the aluminum foil and cut into bars.
Makes 36 bars.