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Apricot Lemon Bars with Hazelnut Crust

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Apricot Lemon Bars with Hazelnut Crust

For many Alice Medrich is the queen of chocolate, and she has shared many secrets in her cooking classes at Central Market. But in her new cookbook, "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy" (Artisan, $25.95), she shares a series of recipes for cookies — "melt-in-your-mouth cookies," as the book calls them. Included is this recipe for Apricot Lemon Bars with Hazelnut Crust. "Vary these by changing the hazelnuts for walnuts or toasted almonds or whatever nuts you like," she says. Apricot Lemon Bars with Hazelnut Crust For the crust: 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) flour 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 3/4 teaspoon vanilla For the topping: 1/2 cup sugar 2 tablespoons flour 2 large eggs 1/2 cup (5.5 ounces) apricot preserves 1/3 cup strained fresh lemon juice 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting (optional) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. To make the crust: Place the flour, sugar, salt and nuts in a food processor. Pulse until the nutes are finely ground. Add themelted butter and vanilla and pulse until the dry ingredients look damp and the mixture begins to clum around the blae. Remove the dough and knead it a couple of times to be sure it is evenly mixed. Line an 8-inch square pan, bottom and sides, with aluminum foil. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is fully baked, well browned at the edges and golden brown in the center. To make the topping: While the crust is baking, stir together the sugar and flour in a large bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the preserves, breaking up any extra-large pieces. Mix in the lemon juice. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 degrees. Slide the rack with the pan out and pour the filling onto the hot crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until the topping no longer jiggles when the pan is tapped. Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan. Life up the foil liner and transfer the bars to a cutting board. Use a long sharp knife to cut into 16 (2-inch) or 25 daintier bars. Sift powdered sugar over the bars just before serving, if desired. May be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or more. After 2 days, the crust softens, but the bars still taste quite good for up to a week. Makes 16 bars. From "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy" by Alice Medrich  
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