Whole-grain rolled wheat is available in 16-ounce bags from Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com; the bag says "hot cereal"). If you can't find it or order it, use a total of 4 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats instead; or you can toss in 1/3 cup whey protein powder with the rolled oats, seeds and fruit without worrying about upsetting the balance of the other ingredients.
Make Ahead: The just-baked bars need to cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting. The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature (in a cool place, but not the refrigerator) for up to 2 weeks.
Servings: 36 approximately 2 1/2-by-1-inch bars
- 3 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not substitute instant or quick-cooking oats)
- 1/3 cup whole-grain rolled wheat (wheat flakes; see headnote)
- 1 1/4 cups roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 2/3 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 2 cups firmly packed sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 1/4 cups firmly packed diced dried fruit (preferably a mixture of moist, pitted dried prunes and apricots, plus dried tart cherries and dried cranberries)
- 1/3 cup golden flaxseed meal
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as soybean
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon chunks
- 1 cup golden syrup, such as Lyle's (may substitute clover honey)
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil, leaving an overhang along the 2 long edges. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to lightly coat the foil.
Combine the oats, rolled wheat, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut, dried fruit and golden flaxseed meal in a large mixing bowl, being sure to break up any clumps of fruit.
Combine the oil, butter, golden syrup, light brown sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the butter has melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let the mixture bubble rapidly for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. The mixture should be syrupy and somewhat condensed. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the syrup mixture over the oat mixture; use a flexible spatula (or a metal mixing spoon sprayed with nonstick cooking oil spray) to mix well. Spoon into the prepared pan, using the flexible spatula or an offset metal spatula to press the mixture lightly into an even layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set and golden on top. The edges will bubble gently, and the bottom will turn a deeper golden, caramel color. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely; this may take 2 to 3 hours.
Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a cutting board. Use the overhang of foil to transfer the baked slab to the cutting board; discard the foil. Use a serrated knife to cut the slab into 36 bars, which will be quite tender and soft. Carefully transfer them to an airtight container and place wax paper or parchment paper between the layers.
VARIATION: To create a bar with reduced amounts of fat and sugar, make the following adjustments to the ingredients above: Use 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 3/4 cup golden syrup (or honey), 5 tablespoons butter, 3 1/4 cups oats, 1 cup pumpkin seeds and 1 2/3 cups coconut.
From Washington cookbook author Lisa Yockelson.
Tested by Nathaniel Ahlers.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.