The inspriration for these bars came from one of my favorite desserts that my mom makes; her Apricot Bars. They are buttery, crunchy and fruity all in one. In one word they are heavenly.
The only thing is that I end up eating way to many of them whenever she makes a batch. I think I devoured 3/4 of them in one sitting once. NOT GOOD -( 'Er well they were good, but not good for me.) I shutter to think of the calories and saturated fat that I inhaled on that fine day.
So I decided to make a healthy alternative to my Mom's bars. I can't say that they are better than my Mom's recipe, but they certainly were delicious; and healthy too. I could have gone with tub margarine in place of butter, but I think one of the best things about these bars are the buttery taste. As I said above, I did reduce the butter by half and replaced it with canola oil. I am a firm believer in all good things in moderation. (Except of course when Mom puts a plate of those Apricot Bars in front of me!)
Lift off the top sheet, turn over, place on top of the filling and remove the 2nd sheet of waxed paper.
by Mixed Salad Annie
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons wheat germ (optional)
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/4 cup packed natural brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. either almond or vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup of your favorite preserves (I used Apricot, but often use Raspberry as well)
1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (such as Sunsweet Antioxident Blend)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In an electric mixer or large mixing bowl blend together the butter, sugars and oil until creamy.
Add the egg and extract and blend until well combined. Add the wheat germ. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture slowly until just combined. Gently mix in the walnuts. Reserve half of the mixture (about 1 1/2 cups) and set aside.
Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 8 1/2 x 12 inch (or 9 x 11) baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Spread 1/2 of the peanut butter over the mixture evenly. Dot the preserves all over, staying within 1/2 inch from edge. Sprinkle the dried fruit evenly over the top. Dot the remaining peanut butter evenly over the top.
Place reserved mixture between two sheet of waxed paper. Roll the mixture to the size of the pan. Remove the top piece of waxed paper, carefully flip it and place on top of the prepared mixture in the pan. Remove the remaining waxed paper.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely. Grab the edges of the parchment paper and lift the bars out of the pan. Cut in half and then into equal size bars.