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Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Pack these bars in your backpack for a midday treat.

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
  • 2 teaspoons soft butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup firmly packed dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Be sure an adult is nearby to help.

Put the 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir with the wooden spoon until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Using a pot holder, remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. 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.

Using kitchen scissors, snip the apricots into about 1/2-inch pieces.

In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir with a wooden spoon 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 1 1/2-by-3-inch rectangles. Store in an airtight container. Makes 18 bar cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Kid's Cookbook, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Time-Life Books, 2000).