Forgive me. I need a little something to crow about, even if it's something as silly as simply having feathered the apricot cheesecake bars. I've never done it before, you see. And it's now clear to me that it's one of those tricks that will make other people behave as if I'd just made them Pierre Hermé's Plaisir Sucré, instead of simply a batch of bar cookies. Very worthwhile, in that case.
I know I abandoned this space for more than three weeks. And my chum Bakerina says that recently married people are allowed some space for blogbandonment. But I wish it were because we'd been off honeymooning in some fabulously other realm. My school's secretary and I have this running joke about how, at times, we'd rather be Elsewhere. Well, it's going to be a while before G and I get to Elsewhere. It's been a gruelling few weeks -- and there's no real light at the end of this tunnel, at least not for the next month or so.
After the glory of our May 12th family wedding-sorta-type-party was over (and it was glorious, and I do have a lovely treasured family heirloom paté recipe for you which was one of the highlights of the buffet, much to the caterer's chagrin, since I made and brought it myself, but that's another story), regular life resumed with a bit of a vengeance.
Suffice it to say that both G's and my work/school schedules have made it impossible to do much else except for occasional family obligations. My school is prepping our first 10th grade class for NY State Regents exams, and I've been called down from my perch of professional development specialist and am teaching 8 periods of cranky 10th graders a day. I'll show them cranky. In addition, my admin program is drawing to a close, and the requirements are getting ever more stressful. I'm not sure, at this point, that I'll make it to the finish line with all my work in tow. I won't say more about this program and its requirements until I have my little certificate safely in hand, for fear of being dooced (or its equivalent for the schoolplace rather than the workplace). In addition to all my work and school stress, G's production workshop is moving, he's behind on orders for his business, and has a massive amount of freelance computer work to complete before the end of the month. So yes, overworked, underpaid -- but still here.
Still, we did some work and play this weekend. It was lovely to have three days off, and we made a stab at some cleaning and reorganizing of our lair, which had settled into a rather atrocious state. And I found time to get up early and bake for my last grad class tomorrow. Brownies, with and without nuts, and a new venture -- double apricot cheesecake bars. A nutmeg-scented butter cookie crust, a vanilla bean cheesecake batter, and swirls of last season's homemade apricot curd from the freezer, as well as June Taylor's fabulous apricot sauce (hence the two tones of apricot). Even if I don't finish the admin program, they'll remember me for my baked goods.
Double Apricot Cheesecake Bars
You could substitute any fruit curd here, and/or any tart jam or fruit sauce. My recommendation would be to stay with something pretty tangy, since you want the contrast of the sweet vanilla-bean cheesecake and the sharp fruit flavor. Berries or any fresh fruit are a lovely garnish.
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups a.p. flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. Madagascar vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. a.p. flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup apricot curd
1/4 cup apricot sauce
Preheat oven to 350°F. For crust, combine 1/2 cup sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, salt and nutmeg. Beat until well mixed. (Mixture will be crumbly.) Press crust mixture onto bottom of greased, foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine all filling ingredients in the same bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl quite often, until mixture is creamy.
Spread half of the filling over the hot, partially baked crust; using about two-thirds of the apricot curd, lay thick stripes of it over the cheesecake filling. Carefully spoon over the rest of the cheesecake batter, covering the curd as much as possible. Spoon alternating horizontal stripes of apricot curd and apricot sauce over the cheesecake batter (a squeeze bottle would have been great here, but I didn't have one). Use a knife to carefully feather a vertical lines through the apricot stripes, running in alternating directions. Put the whole shebang in the oven, and continue baking for 28 to 33 minutes or until set. Cool completely, and even give it a couple of hours in the fridge if you have the patience. Cut into bars with wet knife, store refrigerated -- you know the drill. These should keep for at least four or five days, but they're at their best in the second day or so.