The addition of old-fashioned oatmeal into cookies makes them sturdy treats. A bit more healthful, too, thanks to the fiber. I am not saying Apricot Oatmeal Bars are diet food, but they do offer some nutrition others don’t. Dried apricots are another bonus.
Dark brown sugar brings the sweetness and also keeps the bars moist. I like to bring these bars on road trips or to the office to fight off the afternoon hunger pangs. Everyone else may be hangry, but not me.
A couple tricks here. Use kitchen shears to snip the dried apricots in 1/2-inch pieces but spritz the blades first with non-stick spray. This will keep the apricots from sticking. Do the same with your hands when you push the stiff dough into the pan, patting it down until it’s even.
Old-fashioned oatmeal is the variety you want for cookies and other baked goods. They are also called rolled oats. The oat groats have been steamed and flattened but are not as thin as quick-cooking oatmeal. They are considered whole grains. Read more about other varieties of oatmeal.
This is a basic fruit-and-oatmeal bar recipe. The apricots can be traded for any dried fruit including cherries, cranberries, blueberries, mangoes, pineapples or a mixture of them. A handful of toasted coconut or even nuts would change them up even more.
Apricot Oatmeal Bars will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge if well-wrapped. Let them come to room temperature before eating or you’ll have a tough chew.
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
- 2 teaspoons soft butter for greasing pan
- 1 cup firmly packed dried apricots
- 1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Put the the butter in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir with the wooden spoon until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with a large piece of aluminum foil (some foil hanging over the edges is fine). Lightly grease the foil with the soft butter or use non-stick spray.
- Using kitchen scissors, snip the apricots into about ½-inch pieces.
- In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir until well blended and no lumps of sugar remain.
- Add the snipped apricots, melted butter and vanilla to the bowl. Stir until well blended. The dough will be moist and crumbly. Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough into the pan with your fingers.
- Bake until the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the pan from the oven, set on a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
- Lift the foil and the oatmeal bars from the pan and place on a work surface. Peel away the foil from the sides and bottom. Using a small, sharp knife, cut the big square into 1½-by-3-inch rectangles. Store in an airtight container.