Fruit and Nut Bars

Packed with dried fruits and nuts - the ultimate Christmas flavours.

  • Preparation Time20 mins
  • Cooking Time45 mins
  • Serves24
  • DifficultyMedium

For the cookie

280g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
225g butter, soft, but still cool
200g granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence

For the fruit

10g cornflour
15g granulated sugar
240ml orange juice
70g dried apricots, diced
70g dried dates, quartered
80g dried cherries, each halved
80g dark or golden sultanas
10g crystallised orange peel, diced
60g raw peeled pistachios
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
For the cookie:
1) Preheat oven to 190C/Gas 5. Coat a 23 by 33cm baking pan with butter or nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

2) Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

3) Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl, with an electric mixer, at medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 mins. Scrape down the sides and add the egg and vanilla essence. Beat well, and then scrape down the sides.

4) While mixing on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches. Scrape down the bowl between each addition, and mix until just blended.

5) Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake until light golden brown with spots of darker golden brown and darker edges, about 30 mins. Cool completely, about 45 mins.

For the fruit:
1) Whisk the cornflour and sugar together in a small saucepan. Whisk in orange juice until mixture dissolves. Stir in the fruits and crystallised orange peel. Bring to a simmer over medium, stirring often; continue to cook, stirring until thickened into a compote, about 3 mins more. You should be able to draw the spoon along the bottom of pan and see the pan with no liquid seeping back. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the nuts and lemon zest.

2) Spread fruit evenly over the top of the cooled crust.

3) Heat oven to 180C/Gas 4. Bake mazurkas until golden brown around edges and fruit sets but is still slightly glossy and jewel-like, about 10 mins. Cool in pan on rack.

4) Cut, using an oiled knife, into 24 bars. Serve.

Busy baker's tips: When double-wrapped, the cookie base keeps at room temperature for 3 days or frozen for 1 month. The fruit compote can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated. Store completed cookies in an airtight container, layers separated with parchment paper, for up to 5 days.

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