Fruit bars

No, no gay content, just food, not places, starting with (baked) lemon bars featured in the latest Pinterest mailing I got:


With a brief digression to frozen fruit bars, this will take us to apricot bars (as baked by Monique Serpette Transue) and other cookie-like finger foods based on dried fruits (something of a challenge for taxonomists of food).

Lemon bars. On Pinterest, a link to the Six Sisters’ Stuff site from 7/4/18 on “The Best Homemade Lemon Bars”:

With a perfectly chewy crust, tart lemon filling and powdered sugar topping, these are the best Homemade Lemon Bars you’ll ever eat. [AZ: The cascade of exclamation points is invisible.]

Crust plus fruit filling, in easy-to-handle rectangles.


Crust: 1 cup butter, softened; 1/2 cup sugar; 2 cups flour; 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling: 3 cups sugar; 6 large eggs, beaten; lemon zest of 1 lemon; 1 cup lemon juice, fresh or bottled; 1 cup flour

Topping: 1/2 cup powdered sugar


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Cream together softened butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add flour and salt and mix until blended. Press into the bottom of prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While crust is cooking, make filling by mixing together sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour filling over hot crust and bake for about 25 -30 minutes or until set.

Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. [AZ: or save part of the crust batter to make a top layer, as in the apricot recipe below]

Cool completely and cut into squares.

The bars aren’t easily placed in a taxonomy of (sweet) foodstuffs: they’re like COOKIES, like (small) CAKES, like CANDY (compare granola bars, fruit leathers, etc.).

Digression: frozen fruit bars. Basically, frozen fruit-juice popsicles. In particular, from the Outshine company (website here), offering bars through various outlets, in a variety of flavors, including:

strawberry, açai blueberry, creamy coconut, grape, lemon, lime, mango, peach, pineapple, pomegranate, raspberry, tangerine


Monique’s apricot bars / squares / crisp cookies. A regular treat in the Transue-Zwicky household for some years.

The players, starting with my guy Jacques H. Transue (b. 1/22/42, d. 6/6/03) and me (b. 9/6/40, not dead yet). Then J’s parents:

Monique Serpette Transue b. 9/18/12 d. 1/17/05

William R. Transue (called Bill) b. 11/30/14  d. 2/3/09

Back in 2/1/12 on this blog, in my posting “Waffles and gnocchi” (which has a certain amount of wry humor in it, plus some recipes), I noted:

From  Jacques’s viewpoint, his mother has five special recipes. Two of them — the apricot crisp cookies and the (yellow) fruitcake — are irrelevant to our story, because every time J. leaves Monique for our place, and every time she comes to our place, she supplies us with significant amounts of these two. Actually, J. adores the apricot crisp cookies, and who wouldn’t, but though he likes the fruitcake well enough it’s not one of his special things.

That leaves the raised waffles, the bread (even J. realizes making bread is a hassle, so he hasn’t been pushing this one), and, oh my, the gnocchi — semolina gnocchi, not potato gnocchi.

In e-mail to me from Monique (via Bill, who did the electronic stuff) on 12/11/02:


1/2 lb. dried apricots, cut fine; 3/4 cup white sugar; 3/4 cup water

Cook until tender, almost dry. Cool.


1/4 lb. butter; 1 cup brown sugar; 1 tsp. soda; 1 1/4 cup flour; 1 1/4 cup oatmeal

Keep out 3/4 cup of this mixture. Put remainder into pan. Spread with apricot. Sprinkle the 3/4 cup of mixture on top. Bake at 350 F. for 25 to 35 minutes. Cut into pieces when partly cool. It will make two 8 in. square pans full.


Put the apricot-cooking pan in water immediately [AZ: before the crust mixture irrevocably bonds to it; the lemon bars recipe above uses nonstick spray to avert the problem, but I believe Monique thought that Pam and its kind were works of the devil].

I give my recipes only to people who, I am sure, will not use imitations or cheap ingredients since I believe the secret of good baking in using good stuff to begin with —

There are cheap varieties of dried apricots – no good – I use quick oats, grade A butter and Domino light brown sugar – the “store” brand does not give as good result – and certainy not jam instead of the apricots. [AZ: supply passionately scornful tone of voice here; everyone in the family can hear her voice in these written instructions]

It is  a nuisance to cut them up. I do it, or rather Bill does it, in the Cuisinart.

Yes, Bill did it, with great care. And then had to clean the Cuisinart.

I bathed in the reflected warmth of her extravagant love for Jacques, her favorite of her three sons, but even I could never have gotten away with using — insert French derogatory expulsion of breath here — JAM.

It occurs to Kim Darnell and me — we’re considering doing some apricot bars for the forthcoming spate of food-consumption holidays — that the recipe would work equally well with other strongly flavored dried fruts: dried black figs, Muscat raisins, dates. (I have black figs on my mind, because they’re coming to the end of their season, going down in a blaze of soft fruity deliciousness. But of course for squares, you’d used dried ones, which are available year-round.)

One Response to “Fruit bars”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Jim Ellison on Facebook:

    Reminds me of Aplets and Cotlets — a PNW favorite!

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