One Christmas, in a period of my life which now seems a millennia ago but is probably more like a decade, I decided to make some biscuits for the coming festivities. I had no sweet cook books, if I had any at all back then, and I didn’t really know what to do. I’d always cooked from my mother’s books (official and hand noted), only I didn’t live with my mother any more. Where to begin.
Rather obviously, I rang my mum. After some nominal chit chat and hasty scribbling she gave me three recipes, all easily adapted and all biscuity. One was for coconut and oat cookies. I don’t like coconut. I don’t merely dislike coconut. I out and out hate coconut. It’s vile, perfumed waxy constitution makes my skin crawl, I had a nice shiver there just typing the word. It’s greasy and has an unpleasant, insectile texture and you always end up with little lumps of that grim, hairy husk in the fresh stuff. It’s disgusting, it’s a total pain to get into as well. If I’m going to spend half an hour smashing into something for my dinner it had better be a lobster, not some weird fruit-pulse-vegetable-nut whatever the hell that thing is. Bounty Bars, snowballs, chicken kormas, No. Thank. You. Ick.
So I made the coconut and oat cookies, leaving out the masses of dessicated coconut in the instructions. Well, apart from ruining the flavour that coconut was also there for structural purposes it seems as all of my cookies swiftly merged into one massive, oaty slab on the baking tray. And it wasn’t half bad, let me tell you.
Over the years I’ve worked on the constituent parts, trying many times to find a suitable coconut sub to give the mix the solidity to stay as individual cookies in the oven. I eventually gave up and accepted that it was going to end up as one great big oaty slab, and after some extensive taste testing, settled on the cranberry and macadamia nut version coming up here. I really like it and tend to bang one out at Christmas where possible. As the older male sibling and No.1 flapjack eater has said, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t make the flapjack. But you know, you will have ruined Christmas.
Right then. Merry Christmas!
Boom Boom Cran-Mac Flapjack
5oz unsalted butter
4oz caster sugar
1 heaped tbspn golden syrup
3oz porridge oats/rolled oats
4oz plain flour
One large pack of mixed dried cranberries and madacamia nuts (about 300g)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tbspn cinnamon
Set your oven to 170 C and line a high sided baking tray or swiss roll tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, cranberries and macadamia nuts and set aside. Then in a small saucepan put your butter, syrup and sugar and warm over a low heat until the butter is completely melted and mixed with the sugar and syrup.
Speaking of syrup, I must insist on Lyle’s Golden syrup. It’s the best, and we all know it. Nothing else will do.
Pour your melty butter mix into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Take a big whiff of that cinnamon aroma too and look forwards to Christmas a bit more. Set it aside.
Rather swiftly, boil your kettle and put the bicarbonate of soda into a clean mug or glass. When the kettle permits, pour on a tablespoon of freshly boiled water- it will all fizz up rather violently for a a moment then settle down. Pour this over your mix and give it a really thorough stir.
Dump the mixture out onto the baking tray, giving it a shake to spread out if desired. It will spread out nicely while cooking so you don’t need to sorry too much about evening it out at this point. Put it straight into the oven for twelve to fifteen minutes until the top is a uniformly dark brown and it’s starting to look a bit sticky.
Leave on the side to cool then turn out, remove baking parchment and cut into handy snack sized pieces with a very sharp knife. If you try to cut it while warm, it will disintegrate. It will still taste great, but look a total mess so best let it cook completely.
This will keep in an air tight container for at least a week. Maybe more but it’s never lasted that long in my house!
Variations- this works with most dried fruit or berries and has been successful in the past with any or all of of walnuts, sultanas, dried blueberries, pecans etc.