These are a lunchbox staple now in our house: because so many schools have a no-nut policy for lunchboxes, it can be difficult to find appropriate snacks for children to eat- most cereal bars contain nuts of some sort. I came up with these as a solution to the nut-free rule, and they are brilliant, with or without the chocolate. Use any dried fruit: cranberries, cherries, apricots, apple, peaches- all will work. I do try to use dates where possible, as they are sticky and sweet, and add to the texture of the bars. I also use the packets of milled linseeds which one can now buy as a cereal topper in most shops- I get ours from Lidl, and love it in this recipe, as it helps to bind the bars together.
Makes 24 bars (one baking tray, approximately 30cm x 20cm, full)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Line a Swiss Roll tin, or similar baking tray, that is about 1cm deep, with baking parchment.
50g milled linseeds, or similar cereal topper
25g sesame seeds
25g sunflower seeds
100g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla paste
½ tsp cinnamon
200g mixed dried fruit- I used chopped dates and sultanas in this recipe
For the chocolate topping, if required:
100g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
Spread the oats, linseeds and seeds onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, but keep checking on the oats, and shake the tray about to ensure even browning and toasting occurs.
In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter and sugar slowly- about 3-4 minutes should do it, over a low heat. Then add the syrup, dried fruit, cinnamon and vanilla, and bring the heat up, until the mixture is bubbling gently. Let it bubble for 5 minutes, and then take off the heat. Mix in the toasted oat mix very well, until all the oats are well covered in the sticky mix. Pour the mixture into the baking tray (still lined with parchment) and flatten out with a spatula. Allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate over a low heat (or in the microwave) and mix well. Pour the chocolate over the oat mix, spread out evenly with a spatula, and then allow to cool properly, before cutting into bars.
These will keep in a tin for a week.