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Sweet prunes add richness to bar cookies

Varieties of plums produced for drying are referred to as prunes when in a fresh state as well as dried. Plums grown primarily for the fresh market are different from other varieties because they cannot be successfully dried without removing the pit.

The world's major dried prune producing countries -- listed in order of importance -- are the United States, Yugoslavia, France, Romania, and Bulgaria.

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Dried prunes are ideal for use in cookies, muffins, breads, coffeecakes, and are flavorful additions to rice pudding and stuffing for fowl and pork. Here is a recipe for bar cookies that have prunes folded into the batter. After baking, they are rolled in confectioners' sugar. Honey Prune Bars 3 eggs 1 cup honey 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup rolled oats 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon each cloves and salt 12 ounces, about 2 cups, pitted prunes, coarsely chopped 1 cup chopped nuts Powdered sugar

In large bowl, beat eggs until light and lemon colored. Gradually add honey and vanilla, beating constantly. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Gradually stir into egg mixture. Fold in prunes and nuts to blend thoroughly. Turn into greased 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan; smooth top.

Bake in 350 degrees F. oven about 40 minutes until springy to the touch and lightly browned. Do not overbake. Cool and cut into bars. Roll each in powdered sugar before serving. For best texture and flavor, cover bars in pan with plastic or aluminum foil and set aside 24 hours before serving. Makes about 42 bars.

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