WELL . BEING

natural recipes + simple rituals for effortless modern thrivance

CARAMEL ENIGMAS

danielle coppermanComment

This recipe was a very overdue experiment for me. It came about after resisting the temptation of Pret’s own enigmatic Love Bars for far too long. Waiting eagerly for me at each visit by the checkout, they have remained untouched treasure for a very long time; something I could look at but never fully relish, due to their wheat, dairy and refined sugar content. They made me question so much - I even doubted myself. Caramel and flapjack, all at once? What does Love Bar even mean? Could I ever come up with a natural, nutritious alternative? The answer, my friends, is yes... 

Where most flapjacks consist of golden syrup, sugar, margarine and oats, I use buckwheat flakes, coconut blossom nectar (or agave as a cheaper option), himalayan pink salt and tahini for the bottom layer of these bars. For those of you not familiar with tahini, it is an incredible source of calcium, and is higher in protein than most nuts. It contains just about every type of vitamin B your body needs, which play a big part in healthy cell division, growth and overall health. B vitamins also support healthy skin and hair, keeping skin bright and hair shiny. Tahini also contains a lot of good fat, such as omega 3, and aids digestion. Whole sesame seeds can be hard to digest because the body has to break down the hull on the outside. But when the seeds are ground (making tahini) they have the opposite effect and it is even thought to aid in the digestion of other foods that are a otherwise tricky for our bodies to deal with. I love the versatility of tahini. I make salad dressings with it, marinate meat or fish in a tahini-based sauce, make savoury dips and spreads with it and love incorporating it into baking recipes. I also recently experienced the pure pleasure of combining it with a natural sweetener, to serve with pancakes or to whip into a frosting for cakes, or - like I have done here - to make caramel with. For this recipe I have also provided simpler caramel options for people who don’t necessarily have tahini constantly on hand, or don’t particularly like the taste. And for people who don’t like using sweeteners at all, these alternatives are sweetened only with fruits. 

INGREDIENTS

Flapjack Layer
1 Cup Oats or Buckwheat Flakes (can use a mixture of both, or other flakes of choice)
2 Tablespoons Desiccated Coconut
1-2 Tablespoons Tahini
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons Coconut Blossom Nectar, Agave or Natural Sweetener of Choice
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Ground Vanilla
1-2 Tablespoons Golden Linseeds

Optional
Ground or Grated Ginger
Goji Berries
Chia Seeds
Chopped Nuts

CARAMEL OPTIONS

Tahini Caramel
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil 
4 Tablespoons Tahini
2 Tablespoons Solid Coconut Milk or Natural Coconut Yoghurt
2 Tablespoons Coconut Palm Sugar, Coconut Blossom Nectar or Agave
A Generous Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt or a Teaspoon of Tamari
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Ground Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Almond or Cashew Butter

Optional:
1 Tablespoon Maca or Lucuma

Apricot/Date/Goji Caramel
2 Cups Unsulphured Apricots or Dates
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Solid Coconut Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Ground Vanilla
A Generous Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
1 Teaspoon Maca
4 Tablespoons Almond Butter
1-2 Tablespoons Hot Water or Almond or Coconut Milk, if needed

METHOD:

Flapjack Layer:
Preheat the oven to 165c.
Prepare a heatproof dish by spreading a thin layer of coconut oil around the sides, making sure to coat the base.
In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut oil, your sweetener of choice, the salt and the tahini, mixing gently with a wooden spoon. When the oil has melted and the tahini and sweetener are combined, stir in the oats or flakes and desiccated coconut. Toss the oats/flakes through the wet mixture ensuring they get thoroughly coated. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into your prepared tin. Press the mixture into the tin, making it as compact as possible to ensure it will bind. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the top becomes golden brown.

Note: When you remove them from the oven, the flapjacks will feel soft to touch, but once they cool, they become a wonderful combination of crunchy and chewy. Be cautious not to overcook them.

Let the base layer cool in the fridge whilst you prepare the caramel.

Tahini Caramel
Simply place all ingredients into a small saucepan and stir continuously until everything has dissolved, whisking to break up any lumps. Bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, and then reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, cautious not to let it burn.

Pour over the flapjack base, top with nuts and seeds of choice, and place in the freezer to set. Mine took about 4 hours to become the best consistency, but you can store the bars in the freezer overnight and leave them there for weeks. Just remove them about 10 minutes before eating/serving.

Apricot / Date Caramel
Simply place all of the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on a high speed for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides to collect any escaping ingredients, and add water or nut milk if the mixture needs a little help to get moving. Blend for another 2-3 minutes until a thick paste begins to form. It must be as smooth as possible as you don’t want lumpy caramel.

Scrape the caramel from the blender and spread evenly onto the flapjack base. Top with chopped pistachios or nuts and seeds of your choice, cacao nibs and even Qnola, then set in the freezer for 2-4 hours, to set the caramel. You can store the bars in the freezer, and they will last for around 2 weeks in the fridge. Enjoy as a snack, as a quick breakfast, serve for brunch or afternoon guests or serve with cacao cream or sauce for a really rich desert.