Low (added) sugar flapjacks
As ever, I am looking for ways to keep the refined sugar element of our diets down, without being silly, and without sacrificing flavour. This was the result of a search for something that promised to do that, sourced from Lorraine Pascal which I tried one night this week because I had all the ingredients in the cupboard and a hankering for apricots, which promised to be the lead flavour.
I am normally sceptical about flapjacks because they are really a lot of fat and sugar sheltering underneath the halo of some oats. The ingredients on these looked refreshingly different - there is sugar clearly but it is fruit sugar and intact with its accompanying fibre, so hopefully a little more virtuous. And it didn't have too much fat in it either, The dates are processed to a paste and this is used to bring both sweetness and a binder. It seems to work well.
The resultant flapjack is good - and it seems to have the good things in far higher ratio than the bad, I have used it as a snack this week, and even for breakfast with my coffee (just got a coffee machine, yay!) although I have not managed to persuade the two offspring in residence to try it. The grading is mine therefore. If I have any criticism it is of being a little "datey" - not as much as I thought I will say, but a little. It needs an acid note to correct that next time - maybe increment the orange zest or add a little lemon juice to cut through. It is a keeper though, and one I will do again
100g blanched almonds, finely chopped
175g pitted dates
250g porridge oats
100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, finely chopped
zest of 1⁄2 orange
pinch of sea salt flakes
pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
50g sesame seeds
50g sunflower seeds
50g toasted pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp melted butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4) and line the baking tin with baking parchment. I make sure there is some extra baking parchment hanging over the edges – this makes it easier to pull out the flapjacks once they are ready.
Spread the almonds out in a small baking tray and cook in the oven for 3–4 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Keep an eye on them as they do catch quickly. Remove them from the oven and leave to cool.
Put the dates in a blender with the water and blitz to a paste. Tip this into a large bowl along with the toasted almonds, oats, apricots, orange, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Mix to combine and then mix in the butter.
Tip the mixture into the lined tin and squish down with a wooden spoon – spending a little bit of time doing this will stop the flapjacks from falling apart when you cut them. Put the flapjacks into the oven for 18–20 minutes.
When the flapjacks are baked, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool a little, then carefully remove from the tin using the overhanging baking parchment. Cut into sixteen squares to serve.