Apricot Harlequin Cookies are crisp, melting little morsels that are a delight to bake and eat. Jewel-like bits of dried apricots add zip and chew to the shortbread-like dough you can make and roll ahead of time. Then just slice and bake whenever the cookie urge strikes. (Skip to recipe.)

apricot harlequin cookies

These little slice-and-bake gems are a riff on shortbread cookies – lovely, delicate, yet crunchy, studded with chewy apricot bits. They are a wonderful addition to your holiday cookie platter, or all year round as a teatime treat.

The original Italian version, called Arlecchini – or little harlequins  (also sometimes called Tutti Frutti Cookies) use bright red and green candied cherries, but all that unnatural colouring gives me the shivers. So, I substituted chopped dried apricots – not as bright and flashy, but still cheerful looking with the glowing golden apricot bits. Think of them as the quieter, more refined younger brother of the clown-like harlequin or jester.

apricot harlequin cookies

I omitted the egg, so the Harlequin cookies have a smoother and crisper texture that melts in your mouth like shortbread cookies. I also snuck in rum to moisten the dough, instead of water – going on the principle of vodka helping to tenderize pie crust, and thinking the slight bit of alcohol will keep the log of dough from freezing as solidly.

The beauty of this cookie recipe (besides its obvious good looks!) is that the dough can be quickly thrown together, then tucked into the freezer to bake later – when you need a batch of biscuits for guests, or whenever the cookie craving strikes.

apricot harlequin cookies

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes:  *Sweet rice flour is also known as glutinous rice flour, although it doesn’t contain any gluten. The term refers to the sticky nature of the rice. It also sometimes goes by the name of ‘mochiko’, if you buy it in an Asian grocery store. It works well in baking and to thicken sauces.

If using gluten-free flours, there is no need to use any added gums. The freezing process seems to help the flours bind, and they hold together beautifully.

Vegan: Since this recipe uses no eggs, it’s easy to make it vegan – just be sure to use a vegan margarine or butter substitute. I made several batches like that and they turned out just as delicious – the texture was a little crisper and not quite as ‘short’ or melt-in-your-mouth as shortbread, but yummy all the same.

apricot harlequin cookies

(Eggless) Apricot Harlequin Cookies

adapted from Cakes in the City

  • ½ cup (115gms) soft, salted butter (or vegan butter substitute)
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (190gms) all purpose flour — or 1/3 cup (45gms) brown rice or sorghum flour + 1/3 cup (45gms) white rice flour + 1/3 cup (55gms) sweet rice flour* + 1/3 cup (50gms) cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup (80gms) icing sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum (or water)
  • ½ cup (100gms) soft dried apricots

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Add the flour (or gluten-free flours), icing sugar, and vanilla. Mix until it is crumbly.

Add 1 tablespoon of the rum or water and beat until it comes together in a soft ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This may take a couple minutes. Add the second tablespoon, a bit at a time, if you need it, but one tablespoon is usually enough. If you add a bit too much rum, add back in one teaspoon of flour or rice flour at a time until the dough is soft, but not sticky anymore.

Chop the apricots coarsely.

chopping the dried apricots forapricot harlequin cookies

Add the chopped apricots to the dough and mix until they are incorporated.

dough ball for apricot harlequin cookies

Roll the dough into a ball, and place it onto a large piece of wax paper. Shape it into a log about 10 inches/25 cm long.

shaping the log of dough forapricot harlequin cookies

Wrap the log up in the wax paper, and roll the wrapped log on the counter lightly to make a smooth cylinder. If the paper is crinkled, unwrap, smooth it out and wrap up the log again – this will keep the edges smooth so the cookies are even. Place in the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.

wax paper wrapped log for apricot harlequin cookies

(The log of cookie dough can also be kept frozen for up to several months, wrapped tightly in plastic. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before slicing and baking.)

Remove from the freezer and slice into 1/3 inch (8mm) slices. Place on greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. If any edges of the cookies come loose, press them gently back into place.

apricot harlequin cookies

Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden underneath. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool.

apricot harlequin cookies

Makes 30 cookies.

Guten Appetit!


Want to receive new Kitchen Frau recipes directly to your email? Sign up here and you’ll get a handy and useful kitchen tip along with each recipe, too. (No spam ever.)

If you like my recipes, follow me on InstagramPinterestTwitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!


You might also like:

Have You Done Your Christmas Baking Yet?

Peanut Brittle Cravings

Rouladen – a Christmas Eve Tradition

Homemade Granola Bars, with Variations

Healthy Fudge with a Wicked Alias

apricot harlequin cookies

Hmmm . . . what is that? Looks good . . .

apricot harlequin cookies

Yup . . . tastes good too . . . I love Christmas.