Buttery Oats & Brown Sugar Fruity Goodness at its Best!
Earlier this year I visited my sister and her husband at their home in Eastern Washington and upon my departure they loaded my car up with some delicious bounty from their garden. In addition to the cherries, red potatoes and other fresh produce, my brother-in-law gave me a few jars of jam that he made from last summer’s fruit.
My brother-in-law is something of a Renaissance Man – canner, baker, builder of houses (from the ground up), classic car restorer, master gardener, bartender, all around nice guy, and the list goes on an on. And his jam is killer. So while I’ve used some of the raspberry jam on my morning toast and lunchtime PB&Js, I wanted to make something special with the apricot jam he gave me.
Anytime I think the words apricot jam, my immediate Pavlovian response is Mazurka bars. And until I did a little research for this post, I assumed that Mazurka bars were everywhere around the country and that everyone knew what they were. But after reading this article on cakespy.com which details the history of the Mazurka bar (and gives the original recipe), I’ve learned that they are really just a Seattle thing. In fact, I had a hard time pulling up more than a half a dozen recipes for them on the Internet.
Do you know what a Mazurka bar is? If not, let me tell you – if you like fruit crumbles…. No, if you love the combination of brown sugar, quick oats and fruit, you will love (L.O.V.E.) Mazurka bars. Mazurka bars are the portable cousin to the the messy, warm and fork-required fruit crumbles. In just a more buttery, cookie bar version. They are the perfect accompaniment to a your coffee as you head to your 10am meeting.
I was first introduced to Mazurka bars in the late 1980′s. One of my classes at the University of Washington was held in the very old, but beautiful Architecture Hall. On the second floor was a small espresso stand, and twice a week I used to hustle my cookies across campus in time to grab a double tall, non-fat latte and apricot Mazurka bar before the riveting lecture on animal psychology began. So what better to make with my brother-in-law’s homemade apricot preserves than try to recreate those deeply sweet and satisfying apricot Mazurka bars?
Now you probably know by now that while I consider myself a pretty decent cook, I am not much of a baker. Scratch baking is something that has eluded my culinary repertoire. But that’s OK, I make wicked good cupcakes and Bundt cakes by enhancing box cake mixes with pudding mixes, booze and the like. And every once in awhile I can pull of a cookie recipe or two. And the recipe for Mazurka bars is right up my alley. There is no levener involved, just stirring ingredients and baking. Hard to mess up even for a baking dork like me.
You can find the original recipe for Mazurka bars here. My recipe below is a little different. I didn’t have any shredded coconut on hand and I added just a pinch of cinnamon since I think it brings a little depth to the apricot jam.
|Apricot Mazurka Bars – My Take|
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/16 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 3/4 sticks (13 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 1/2 cups quick oats
- 2/3 cup well chopped walnuts
- 1 1/4 cup apricot jam
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Add flour, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into dry ingredients until butter is the size of peas. Stir in oats and walnuts.
- Place 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Using fingers, press mixture into pan.
- Spread apricot jam over mixture, within 1/2 inch of sides of pan. Sprinkle remaining dough evenly over jam. Using fingers, lightly press dough into jam.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top dough is golden brown and semi-firm to the touch.
Maybe it’s just my fond memories of college, but I think Mazurka bars make great breakfast treats paired with coffee. Their sweetness is the perfect foil for the bite of black coffee. And before you judge me too harshly about eating Mazurka bars for breakfast, may I remind you that muffins are nothing but cake? And have you seen the recipe for whole wheat scones – butter, shortening, and heavy cream? Yeah, I’ll take my Mazurka bars. I’m not saying that I won’t be napping that afternoon, because surely I will, but damn, they’re good!