Chocolate caramel flapjacks: a no-holds-barred decadent treat

Oaty flapjacks with gooey caramel and topped with a thick crunchy layer of chocolate scream indulgence

 

Oats have a reputation as a health food that many other grains haven’t achieved. Perhaps it relates to their low glycemic index, as they slowly release energy over many hours. Maybe the possibility of buying oats that are gluten free has boosted their standing in some quarters. They are a great source of fibre and are packed with a whole range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They have even been described as one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.

To balance things out, these chocolate caramel flapjacks have been pulled kicking and screaming from the health food category and filed firmly under indulgent treats. They are extremely decadent (of course no one says you can’t bite-size them). No one will be fooled if you try to call these granola bars and eat them for breakfast.

When life calls for a no-holds-barred treat, I recommend these caramelitas. I was introduced to them by an American student attending our certificate course in the cookery school. The moist chewy oats are layered with gooey sticky caramel then the whole lot is topped with a thick crunchy layer of chocolate.

After the flapjacks are baked, they need to be left to cool completely in their tin. Once they have cooled, they firm up and become much easier to remove in neat squares. Leaving them to cool will also help prevent any injuries from being tempted to eat the hot caramel too soon.

The flapjacks store well in an airtight container so, when you next want a dose of caramel and chocolate with your manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate and assorted B vitamins, you’ll know where to look.

Variation:

You can use a 30cm x 20cm rectangular baking tray if you don’t have a square one.

Caramelitas

Makes 16 medium squares

Ingredients
For the caramel:
75g caster sugar
120g butter
397g tin sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp golden syrup

For the chocolate flapjacks:
250g medium porridge oats
150g plain flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
200g butter
150g soft brown sugar (or caster sugar)
3 tbsp golden syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract

For chocolate topping:
175g dark chocolate (minimum 55 per cent cocoa solids)

Method
1
 First make the caramel: Gently melt the sugar, butter, condensed milk and golden syrup in a medium saucepan. Using a whisk to stir vigorously, increase the heat to just below boiling, then fast simmer stirring for about 15 minutes while the sauce changes colour and starts to thicken (use a wooden spoon to scrape around the inside edges of the pan to avoid the mixture catching the base of the pan). Remove it regularly from the heat source if it starts to spit as you stir. Stand over the pan and keep stirring until it reaches a deep caramel colour (or has an amber hue).

2 For the chocolate flapjacks: Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, fan. Line a square (20cm x 20cm) baking tin with parchment paper. Mix the oats, flour, cocoa powder and salt in a large wide mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir without allowing the mixture to boil. Once the sugar is fully dissolved and blended with the butter to give a smooth consistency, stir in the golden syrup and vanilla extract.

3 Pour the hot liquid evenly over the dry ingredients, stirring well. The oats should be evenly coated and moistened.

4 Transfer two thirds of the mixture into the lined baking tin and use the back of a spoon to pack the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.  Next spread an even layer of the caramel over the surface.

5 Next cover the caramel evenly with the remaining flapjack mixture and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 30 minutes (if the edges start to burn, reduce the oven temperature slightly). Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool fully, before adding the chocolate.

6 For the chocolate topping: Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water). Pour the melted chocolate over the surface of the baked caramelitas. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

7 Use a large serrated knife to cut neatly into even squares or fingers (portioning when the chocolate is set but not fully hardened helps avoid cracking the chocolate when cutting).

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