Once upon a time I scoured recipe books for an interesting bar recipe for a friendly bake off competition. I came upon this lovely combination of apricots, rosemary, lemons and almonds. I quickly made them and brought them to a Minnesota Food Bloggers party. When I say “quickly” made them is because I was late and they were still warm when I got to the event. This is the start of my story
I will always remember this fabulous event not only for the food, the gracious hostess Stephanie Meyer, meeting new life long friends while standing at the sangria table, and of course, for these apricot rosemary bars to win the baking competition of the evening. Who knew these bars would introduce me to whole new worlds just like the Dr. Suess story, “Oh the Places You’ll Go”
Here are just a few of the places the apricot bars took me.
Kowalski’s Market Magazine feature, Los Angeles Times Holiday Bake-Off Top Ten Recipes, An editorial written by Russ Parson of the LA Times, A gluten-free version made by Heartbeet Kitchen, Featured in my hero ZoeBakes blog, and again in a favorite blog, Eat.Drink.Life.Love, Met new LA food blogger friend who also won Top Ten honors featured on her site, Featured in the Glendale/Burbank News press, One of Shockingly Delicious Blog’s Favorite Things, Introduced me to the fabulous Melissa’s Produce in LA and I wrote this blog post AND a certificate from our local congressman in recognition of the LA Times win. Pretty crazy. The best part is all of the incredible people I’ve met along the way.
Now fast forward to yesterday, April 1st. I wanted to make a unique birthday cake for a very special man, my father-in-law. The apricots, rosemary and walnut combination I hoped would work just as well in a cake as in these wonderful bars.
Years ago I made this White Chocolate Apricot Layer cake from and issue of Bon Appetit. I burned the white chocolate and the cake still tasted good. Fast forward again, nine years later I still remembered that cake and decided to infuse the flavors of the famous apricot bars to make it my own.
As with any worthwhile recipe, you start with lots of butter and eggs
Great ingredients like California Apricots from Melissa’s Produce and high quality white chocolate and toasted walnuts.
Apricot White Chocolate Cake with Rosemary
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
8 oz. Good quality white chocolate chopped
2 1/4 c. all purpose or cake flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temp.
1 1/3 c. sugar
4 eggs (room temp.)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. whole milk
Rosemary Lemon Simple Syrup:
1/2 c. sugar
1/2. c. water
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 lemon peels (use a vegetable peeler)
Bring to boil, let steep for 5 min. Cool to room temp.
2 c. dried California apricots (if you can’t find them, add the juice of 1/2 a lemon to other varieties
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. local honey
3 Tbsp. spiced rum or brandy
White Chocolate Butter cream:
1 lb. white chocolate chopped
1 3/4 c. unsalted butter (room temp)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 c. toasted walnuts chopped to press on the perimeter of the cake after frosted. Feel free to substitute almonds or pecans, whatever you like.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the pans. Butter and flour two nine inch cake pans. Use a parchment round at the bottom of each and butter the paper.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Leave in the pan and turn off the heat. Sift together the dry ingredients. Using a mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one a time. Add the vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk in 3 additions. Add warm white chocolate and beat until just blended.
Divide between the two cake pans. Bake for about 30 min. until tester comes out clean. Let cool for 20 min. on cooling rack. Turn cakes out onto cardboard round. Take off parchment paper.
To Make Butter Cream:
Melt white chocolate in double boiler until smooth. Let stand to cool, but not set. Beat butter with mixer until fluffy. Beat in white chocolate and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To Make Apricot Filling:
Combine apricots, water, sugar, honey and rum in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Simmer for 45 min.until most of the liquid has absorbed. Let cool then process in a food processor until smooth.
Brush the cut layers with the rosemary lemon simple syrup.
Spread butter cream and apricot filling of each layer. Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining butter cream and press the chopped toasted walnuts around the sides. You can’t go wrong in the frosting. The chopped walnuts can hide flaws and nothing is ever perfect.