Oats are often used in healthy breakfast and snack-time recipes full of wholesome ingredients that you can feel good about. People see a baked good made out of a oats and think "this is probably good for me".
That's precisely what I thought when I was in England and saw an pile of oat squares for sale at a train station. My first tip that these bars were not necessarily meant for breakfast should have been that they were being sold along side chocolate bars and candy, but I was momentarily confused by the name on the wrapper so I wasn't focusing on the obvious "these are not good for you" clues. The oat squares were called 'Flapjacks" which is what we Canadians call pancakes.
(it gets more confusing, the pancakes in England were what we Canadians would call crepes so there was no good way to describe the stack-o-flapjacks I was picturing in my mind).
Anyways, it only took one bite - one delicious delicious bite - to realize that these sweet, buttery, oaty bars were obviously a treat, not a health food item.
And why shouldn't oats be the star of a dessert bar? They have so much more flavor than flour, a soft chewy texture, and when baked with brown sugar and butter they show us that maybe they have been waiting all this time to be turned into a decadent treat. These tasty morsels deserve a place alongside our rice krispie squares and lemon bars.
The bars are traditionally made with Golden Syrup but it can be a bit hard to find in Canada. In order to compensate for the caramel flavor that was lost by replacing the Golden Syrup with Corn Syrup I added extra brown sugar and a big pinch of salt.
Note: a week or two after completing this recipe I found golden syrup at Super Store
It took five or so batches before I was able to match that buttery, golden, oaty flavor that I remembered from my year living in Leeds. Luckily these are a snap to put together so it didn't take long to bake myself a mountain of bars.
The butter, syrup, and sugar are melted together and stirred into quick oats with a pinch of salt.
The mixture is then pressed into a well greased 8x8 pan..
.. and baked until it's set and the edges have turned golden brown.
I personally like flapjacks best when they are plain, but in their natural state they are the most deceptive.. they could be a stack of good-for-you oat bars.
Simple solution: top them off with something decadent so that they look the part. First I melted some chocolate..
And spread it all over the bars. Not just a drizzle like you see on some granola bars.. these babies are for dessert!
Then I melted peanut butter chips..
And spread the flapjacks with a generous layer.
Once the topping had cooled the flapjacks were sliced and served. A little (confusing) taste of England that only takes a few minutes to throw together.
One of the best ways that I was served a flapjack while in Leeds was warm and soft with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, almost like a fruit crumble sans the fruit. I suggest trying them plain first and then play around with any topping that you please, they make an excellent base for your favorite flavor combinations.
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup or golden syrup (note: fill the cup until it is brimming/ very full)
3/4 cup salted butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups quick oats (instant oats)
pinch of salt
optional: spreadable toppings: caramel, peanut butter chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, etc
1. preheat oven to 350
2. line an 8x8 metal pan with parchment paper
3. In a small pot, heat the sugar, syrup, butter, and vanilla over medium heat until completely combined
4. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats and salt. Pour the melted sugar-butter mixture over the oats and stir until the oats are coated. Use a spatula to spread the oat mixture in the pan and press down firmly.
5. bake for 20-25 minutes until golden around the edge. Allow to cool completely before cutting into square, if you cut them while warm they are prone to crumbling. If using a topping, spread and allow to set before slicing into square. The bars will keep in a ziplock bag or tupperware container at room temperature for a week.