Apricot Bars made with dried apricots have a buttery shortbread crust and topping. Pecans and coconut create a wonderful flavor when combined with the shortbread. You don’t have to wait for apricot season to enjoy sweet apricots.
Apricot Bars bring back childhood memories for me. My grandfather had apricot trees in his backyard in California and every summer we would can and dry all the apricots we couldn’t eat and bring them back to the East coast with us.
I’ve never been able to find fresh apricots in North Carolina that actually taste like the ones from his trees. The ones we get in the grocery don’t even come close to what I remember. The closest I can find to the real thing now is dried apricots.
For this recipe that uses dried apricots, you’ll find that wonderful sweet apricot taste that comes from the fruit itself and not from a lot of added sugar like you get with most apricot preserves.
Apricots do not ripen after they’ve been picked, they only soften. Some people will tell you that if they are colored and soft when picked they will ripen. However, in my experience if they ripen any, it’s only slightly. Since apricots are such a delicate fruit, I guess they have to pick them before they’re ripe, or they would be mush by the time they made it to the East Coast.
If you have fresh apricots, you can make them into jam for these bars or use your favorite jam. You will need about 1 ½ cups.
What really pushes these apricot jam bars over the top in my book, is the combination of toasted coconut and pecans added to the shortbread crust and topping. While I love the flavor jam adds to dessert bars, whether it’s raspberry white chocolate bars or strawberry shortbread bars, it’s the shortbread that steals the show.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe with Dried Apricots
- You can make them any time of the year
- A toasted coconut and pecan crust gives a delightful crunch to each bite.
- They’re sturdy enough to ship
- Everyone loves shortbread!
Ingredients You’ll Need for Apricot Jam Bars
- Dried apricots – these can be found with the raisins and other dried fruit.
- Sweetened coconut – there’s not a lot of added sugar so I like to use sweetened coconut in these bars.
- Pecans – you could also use walnuts
- Pantry staples – salt, baking soda, butter, flour, sugar
How to toast coconut
Toasted coconut really takes these shortbread bars to the next level. It’s really easy to toast, but doesn’t take long. If you don’t want burnt coconut, you’ll need to stand by the stove or oven.
I think the easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven at 350º. It will only take a couple of minutes. Check on it frequently and stir it around so that it toasts evenly. You can also toast it in a skillet on the stove.
How do you make shortbread apricot bars
For the apricot jam recipe, chop the dried apricots.
Cover the apricots with water and boil them until they are soft. Save some of the water to dissolve the sugar in and then add the softened chopped apricots to the sugar mixture.
Pro tip: By using chopped dried apricots that have been softened, you get more texture to the bar than if you just use jam.
Make a delicious shortbread by creaming together the butter and sugar then adding the flour, soda and salt. Add toasted coconut and pecans and place three quarters of it in the bottom of the pan and bake it for 10 minutes.
Add the apricot mixture to the partially baked crust and top with the remaining shortbread and finish baking.
Tips for cutting perfect dessert bars
Once you’ve made the perfect apricot shortbread bar, you want to be able to have beautiful squares.
- To get perfect squares for any dessert bar, line the baking pan with parchment paper with enough to hang over the two ends of the pan. This way you can easily lift it out of the pan to cut. If you don’t have parchment paper, tin foil will also work.
- For most recipes, it helps to first let the bars cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. This will help you get pretty cuts without the bars falling apart.
How to Store Apricot Bars
They are best stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container where they will stay fresh for about 5 days. You can easily freeze them where they will last for 3 months.
If shipping, freeze them first before packaging.
I shipped these apricot dessert bars to Natalie and they shipped beautifully. Try taking these to your next tailgate or potluck. While chocolate chip cookies or fudgy brownies are the standard for tailgates, these bars can withstand the heat and still keep their crunch. Plus it’s something a little different that everyone will love.
Nana sent me this dried apricot recipe from an old Junior League Cookbook printed in the 80’s from Owensboro Ky. I love these old cookbooks, you can find some of the best recipes.
More recipes for dried apricots
- Apricot Dijon Chicken
- Cranberry Apricot Oatmeal Cookies
- I’m going to try this dried apricot tart from The Spruce Eats
- Dried apricot muffins sound delicious too from The Southern Plate
Looking for more delicious dessert bars
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Apricot Bars with a Shortbread Crust
- 12 ounces dried apricots (11/2 cups) chopped
- 1 ¾ cups sugar divided
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sweetened coconut toasted
- ½ cup pecans chopped
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan, cover chopped apricots with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Drain, reserving ¼ cup water. Place ¼ cup water back in the saucepan and add ¾ cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cooked apricots back to the saucepan and turn off the heat.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and 1 cup sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together four, soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until combined. Add toasted coconut and pecans.
- Place ¾ of the mixture into prepared pan, pressing it with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove from oven and spread apricot mixture over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust over the top and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Start with softened butter. If you press your finger on it it will indent but not go all the way through.
- Line the pan with parchment paper to make it easy to remove when cooled.
- Refrigerate after cooled to make cutting into bars even easier.