Apricot Walnut Shortbread Squares

Have you ever inherited a collection of recipes that seem like there’s a step or two missing and there’s nobody around to help you fill in the missing parts? That’s kind of  how these delicious cookies were for me.

Apricot walnut cookies

My husband had never paid attention to how his mother actually put them together. He just ate them.

So, as I was in the midst of a baking crisis, I decided to think like my mother-in-law would have: smarter not harder. While her instructions clearly instructed one thing, I chose to do another. When my husband strolled up to grab a cookie or two, he chimed in, “these look nothing like Mamas' did.” Duh, genius. I took a moment to silently curse her for not writing clear instructions and moved on with my life.


The experience, however, made me realize something. Often when I’m tweaking recipes, I don’t take the time to write down everything. If there’s a complicated step or ingredient, I don’t write down any warnings or helpful tips to avoid confusion or catastrophe. If it hadn’t been for this apricot walnut shortbread cookie recipe, I wouldn’t have realized how stupid and lazy that was of me.


In the case of these cookies, the shortbread dough is somewhat thick and the written instructions seemed impossible to me. The instructions were very clear that the dough needed to be divided, and there would be a top and bottom crust. The dough was nearly impossible to spread consistently on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan and still have enough dough left over for a top layer. Then the added conundrum of evenly spreading a second layer of dough over a layer of sticky apricot preserves just seemed impossible. Instead, I used a little more than half on the bottom layer of crust and simply dropped the remaining dough over the filling.


While the finished product might not have been the same as his mother’s, they were still delicious and I’d have to say, a lot less difficult to make. And best of all, since they're not exactly like my mother-in-law's, they're my own version. 

print recipe
Apricot Walnut Shortbread Squares
Store-bought apricot preserves make these cookies an easy option for a busy weekend.
  • 16 tablespoons or 2 sticks, at room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1, gently whisked egg yolk
  • 2 cups, sifted all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup, roughly chopped walnuts
  • 10-ounce jar apricot preserves
Preheat oven to 350º and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar, and egg until smooth. Slowly incorporate the flour. Stir in the walnuts by hand.Divide dough roughly in half (see note above), spread one half evenly across the prepared pan. Cover with an even layer of preserves. Drop remaining dough over jam.Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is golden and the preserves are bubbling. Let cool on wire rack prior to cutting and serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24 cookies