Me and The Queen of Sheba: Apricot Pistachio Bars

Me and The Queen of Sheba: Apricot Pistachio Bars

Legend has it that the Queen of Sheba so loved pistachios that she claimed ownership of all the pistachio trees in her realm.

That’s kind of the way I feel about these Apricot Pistachio Bars. They are that good.

These bars sport a generous top layer of fresh apricots, a middle layer of pistachio filling (wow!), and a crisp-tender bottom crust layer.

Here’s the recipe.


Apricot Pistachio Bars
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  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. table salt
  • 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter (cold and cut into cubes)
  • Filling
  • 3/4 C. shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour
  • A few pinches of sea salt
  • 6 T. granulated sugar
  • 5 T. unsalted butter (cold and cut into cubes)
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1/4 t. almond extract
  • 1 pound firm-ripe apricots (halved and pits removed)
  • Powdered sugar for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line an 8 by 8 inch pan with two 12-inch layers of parchment. Fit the layers of parchment in the pan perpendicular to each other and allow the parchment to overhang the sides of the pan so that you have "handles" to help you lift the baked bars from the pan. They will be fragile until they cool.
  2. First, make the crust. Put flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of your food processor and pulse the ingredients to combine them. Then cut the butter into cubes and add it to the dry ingredients. Process until the mixture comes together in large clumps. This should take between 30 seconds and a minute. Remove the dough from the processor bowl and press it onto the bottom and sides (about 1/4 inch up the sides) of your prepared pan. If your dough is sticky and hard to press into the pan, try dusting your fingers with a little flour. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes until it is a pale golden brown color. Remove the crust from the oven and put the crust in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to firm it up while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. To prepare the filling, combine pistachios, flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your processor and process until the pistachios are a powdery consistency. Add the cubes of butter to the bowl and process until the mixture is well-combined. You do not want to see any butter chunks in the mixture; it should be totally combined with the pistachio mixture. The pistachio mixture will have a paste-like consistency. Add almond extract and egg and process until combined.
  4. Remove the crust from the freezer and spread the pistachio filling evenly across the crust. Be sure to spread the filling into the edges of the pan. You will want pistachio goodness in every part of this wonderful bar.
  5. Top the pistachio filling with the apricots. You can simply arrange the apricot halves neatly on top of the filling. You can arrange the apricots cut side up or cut side down. Alternatively, you can slice the apricots into strips and fan them on top of the bars as I did. I cut thin slices part way through each apricot half but didn't cut through to the top so that the apricot halves would hold together. Then I pressed the sliced apricot half lightly to make a fan of the apricot slices and arranged them decoratively on top of the pistachio filling.
  6. Bake the bars for approximately 60 minutes in your preheated 350 degree F. oven. Watch them carefully. You want the crust to brown but it would be easy to over-bake the bars and burn the bottom. Your bars are done when you can insert a toothpick into the pistachio portion of the bars and the toothpick comes out batter free.
  7. Remove the baked bars from the oven. Let them cool in the pan and then, using the parchment "handles" lift the bars out of the pan. Once the bars are totally cool, slice them into bars. (You can put the bars into the refrigerator for a few minutes to speed things up.) I used my pizza cutter to cut the bars. If you have apricot juices that have spilled over the edges of the bars and burned a bit (as I did) you can trim off those edges at this point. (The edges with the caramelized apricot juices taste wonderful, though. Don't throw them away! Consider them the cook's bonus.)
  8. Dust the bars with powdered sugar and serve.





This recipe is adapted from one on the Smitten Kitchen site. You can find the original recipe here.

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