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APRICOT BARS 
6 oz. (about 3/4 c.) dried apricots (unsulphured apricots not as tangy)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Confectioners' sugar (opt. for top)

Combine apricots, granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apricots are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Puree the fruit in a food processor or blender, or force the fruit through a strainer and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a square pan, 9 x 9 x 2 inches and shake out excess flour.

Sift together the flour and salt. Cream the butter with the brown sugar until mixture is light. Beat in the vanilla and gradually add the flour and salt, mixing just until incorporated. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it with a spatula. Spread the apricot puree on top in an even layer.

Bake in the middle level of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan. Cut into bars, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar or leave plain. Yield: 36 bars. VARIATION: Sprinkle the tops with slivered almonds or shredded coconut.

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