I have no idea what the difference is between flapjacks and granola bars – I have a hunch that the former are English and more oaty, whereas the latter are American, full of nuts and fruit, and ultimately prettier. You tell me. Nevertheless, when I asked my colleagues what I could make them to celebrate the end of the week, after much deliberation they demanded flapjacks. Not my idea of a sweet treat, I have to admit, more of a fake breakfast or pretend health food. But even Mr Fitz made them the other day, and if the great Fitz deems them acceptable, who am I to complain? Anyways, the last two Fiesta Fridays were pure indulgence: after all, we were celebrating the first anniversary of the ultimate blog party! Each Friday, the amazing Angie of The Novice Gardener draws together some of the most passionate and accomplished home cooks I’ve ever met – just have a look at these delights: Now you can see why we need penance, and flapjacks or granola bars do fit the bill perfectly: made from visibly healthy oats, nuts and dried fruit, the insane amounts of fat and sugar are so well disguised that they don’t count. I hope Angie and her co-hosts, Sonal @simplyvegetarian777 and Josette @thebrookcook , who are helping her with tonight’s festivities, will enjoy this healthy treat.
The beauty of these bars is that they are incredibly versatile: as long as it all sticks together, you can pretty much use whatever you like or have in the house. Below you’ll find what I used for mine, but ignore it, by all means! My basic formula goes like this: 4 parts oatflakes (large jumbo ones for a more American look, the smaller ones for the more compact British style), 3 parts dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, prunes even …) and nuts (flaked almonds, chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, again your options are endless), 1 part sugar (the darker the better, half of it in form of honey, corn syrup or maple syrup), 1/2 part melted butter. Add flavours, mix, bake, devour.
Flapjacks (makes 40)
- 4 cups of porridge oats
- 3/4 cup (200g) dried berry mix and dried sour cherries (leftover from Christmas)
- 3/4 cup (50g) flaked almonds (ditto)
- 1/2 cup (70g) unsalted pistachios, lightly chopped (left over after a traumatic nougat meltdown)
- 1/2 cup (90g) brown muscovado sugar
- 1/2 cup (200g) honey (no more gingerbread for a few months)
- 1 stick (125g) unsalted butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbs cocoa powder (the bitter, unsugared one!)
- 2 tbs vanilla sugar
- 2 tsp orange blossom water (from my Mexican adventures, and it sounded so lovely)
If you have time (or you really deserve it), heat your oven to 200C / 400C and roast the pistachios and almonds for ca. 10 minutes, tossing and turning them regularly. Once they develop that lovely scent, remove them from the oven and give them a little time to cool down. Otherwise just heat your oven to 180C / 360F and line a square baking pan with baking parchment. Over a medium heat, melt the butter with the sugar and honey. Keep stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Don’t let it boil – you don’t want it to turn hard! Mix all the dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl, then add the warm butter mix and stir thoroughly, using a wooden spoon. Add the orange blossom water (and any cornflakes or rice crispies, if you are using them) at the end (so they don’t get all crunched up). Spoon it all into the tin and spread them out evenly. This is the moment of truth: if your allegiances lie with the USA, pop it into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. If you drink your tea with milk and consider cricket a sport, flatten it completely using a wooden board or similar. Pop into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool before cutting into mouth-sized fingers or squares. Happy second year of Fiesta Fridays, everyone!