Apricot squares are a baked dessert that consists of a crumbly crust layer and a sweet apricot layer. They are served in many settings as a simple dessert or sweet snack, but they are also associated with the celebration of holidays for many people. The crust layer can be basic with very few ingredients, but many people personalize the recipe by adding special ingredients to this layer. The apricot layer is also often simple but can also be embellished with some additions. Sometimes the apricot layer is the top layer, but toppings can be added as a third.
During various holidays, when people are gathering to eat, apricot squares are a common sight. The recipe is sometimes part of a family tradition during Passover. When made for Passover, the recipe might call for a few specialized ingredients, such as kosher margarine or matzoh cake meal. In addition to making them for holidays, many people also make apricot squares for regular meals or snacks as well.
The bottom layer of apricot squares usually contains oatmeal, brown sugar, and butter. Some recipes may call for variations on this mixture, such as flour, eggs, or plain sugar. These basic ingredients give the squares their crusty base and can also be embellished according to the cook's taste. Lemon peel, cinnamon, and vanilla extract are all possible additions that change the flavor slightly and suit different tastes or cooking styles.
The apricot layer is added on top of the crust and is generally quite sweet. The sweetness is achieved by adding honey or sugar to sliced apricots. Some recipes call for the apricots to be cooked or soaked to increase the level of sweetness, and the apricots can also be sliced or chopped into smaller pieces. For apricot squares that are less sweet, plain apricots can be used without any added sweetener. The natural juice and flavor of the fruit will come out while baking, but the sweetness will be less intense.
Many recipes for apricot squares call for a portion of the base layer mixture to be set aside and used as a topping layer. Another idea is to use roasted nuts either by themselves or added to a portion of the crust mixture to add a different texture and flavor to the topping. As a final touch, some cooks like to add a dusting of confectioner's sugar to the dessert.