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Gold Rush Bars

Gold Rush Bars

When early settlers came to California, they found more than just gold. They found soil and a climate suited for growing figs, dates and apricots. These regional ingredients shine in all of their glory in this buttery and ever-so-slightly chewy cookie bar.

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sweet white dessert wine, such as Muscat or Late Harvest Riesling
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts, chopped
  • Confectioners' sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with foil; butter bottom of foil.
  2. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In small saucepan, heat wine over medium heat until bubbles begin to form at edge.
  4. Add apricots, figs and dates; stir and return to a boil. Cover pan, turn off heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes until liquid is absorbed; cool.
  5. Cream together butter and sugars using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, then extracts; mix until combined.
  7. Gradually add flour mixture; stir well.
  8. Spread half of batter over bottom of prepared pan using a buttered, metal spatula.
  9. Spread cooled fruit evenly over dough.
  10. Drop spoonsful of remaining batter over fruit layer and gently spread to cover.
  11. Sprinkle walnuts over top.
  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and center is set.
  13. Cool pan on a wire rack.
  14. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
  15. Lift foil to remove bars from pan; cut into diamond shapes.
  16. Store bars in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Yield: 3 dozen bars

Recipe and photo credit (used with permission): Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin