Thursday, 13 November 2014

Chewy Chocolate, Cherry & Chilli Flapjack - two ways

It's ages since I made flapjack, but I always try to make sure we have a batch on the go in the freezer. It is great with school lunches and although it is loaded with sugar, it is also full of oaty fibre and you can pack it with other good stuff too, like fruit and nuts. It is so versatile and is incredibly quick to make.

Dark chocolate and cherry is one of my all time favourite flavour combinations, whether in cakes, cookies, mousses or meringues. The slight bitterness of the chocolate against the sweet, fruity cherry is timeless.  It also works pretty well in flapjack.......

I always think of flapjack as a sweet kids treat, but throw in some chilli and the flapjack gets elevated to a new level....... something altogether more grown up.

Using coconut palm sugar and honey in the mix as well, as replacement for some of the usual golden syrup and sugar helps to tone down the sweetness and if you replace some of the butter with coconut oil, you can kid yourself it is almost healthy...........

I have made a couple of batches of this flapjack...... On my first, I was way too impatient and added the chocolate chunks to the mix whilst it was still warm. Needless to say the chocolate melted and mingled into the whole flapjack, leaving me with a very dark bake. Not quite what I intended, but you know what? It was pretty damn good anyway.......

The dark chocolate (for this batch I used 70% cocoa) melted and infused with the rest of the ingredients alongside the cherry and chilli, to give a very deep, dark, rich slice. When you first take a bite, you don't notice much chilli heat...... it is subtle enough not to overpower and the chocolate and cherry are allowed to stake their claim as the stars of the show. But then....... slowly.......... the warmth of the chilli starts to sing quite unexpectedly...... not 'hot', but certainly making itself known as it washes across the palate with a warming glow. An amazingly pleasant sensation....... very comforting....... very soothing.......

The Hungarian Paprika which has also been thrown in, gives a slightly earthy quality to the flapjack..... it may not be to everyone's taste, but I recommend trying it....... you may be surprised.

Unfortunately, I stupidly 'decorated' the flapjack with white chocolate chunks before it went in the oven..... I thought to myself : 'they'll make it look more appealing'....... doh! Will I never learn? White chocolate chunk decoration on top of bake + oven heat = dirty looking unattractive blobs......

Now for the second batch......... If you wait until the base mix is cold before you stir in the chocolate chunks, you get an altogether different flapjack experience........ Probably more 'child-friendly' (which may in itself be a reason to ensure the chocolate is added when warm) and definitely more clarified in both the appearance and definition of the individual ingredients. I would absolutely stick with using dark chocolate....... The more observant of you might notice that some of my chunks in this batch are of the 'milk' variety on account of me not having enough dark left for a whole batch and being too lazy to go and get any more.  The milk chocolate makes the flapjack quite a lot sweeter which although not unpleasant, doesn't work quite as perfectly alongside the chilli.

This bake is definitely in the soft, chewy flapjack camp......... juicy, gooey, melty sticky yumciousness. If you prefer yours to be firm and more crisp, just throw in extra oats, ground almonds, and maybe even a bit of desiccated coconut.

I am sending some of my flapjack on a virtual trip through the cyber-world to join a few challenges this month which seemed right up its street.

We Should Cocoa, which for November is being hosted by Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen on behalf of Choclette from the ever-inspiring Chocolate Log Blog. Shaheen has designated this month chilli-chocolate month for the challenge....... Perfect!

Tea Time Treats with Janie at The Hedge Combers and Karen from Lavender & Lovage. November's theme is Bonfire Night....... Flapjack is traditional bonfire fare, but the addition of chilli makes it extra warming for those cold winter nights.

Alpha Bakes with Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes. This month's letter is 'H'.  Ok....... tenuous I know....... but this flapjack contains Hungarian Paprika, the queen of all paprikas. Specifically grown in Hungary, it is known for its stunningly vibrant red colour and its rich, distinctive flavour.

If you need additional reasons for letting this flapjack join the 'H' gang, all of its key flavour ingredients start with a 'ch' to which the 'h' is crucial. And of course...... the special wow factor here is that it contains Hot chilli.

Chocolate, Cherry & Chilli Flapjack (makes 1x 9 inch square tray bake)


150g unsalted butter
100g coconut oil
100g soft light brown sugar
75g coconut palm sugar
90g golden syrup
90g runny honey
450g GF porridge oats (if you prefer a firmer, more dry flapjack, just add more)
200g candied cherries - cut into pieces and drained (made from this recipe) - although glace cherries should work equally well
40g ground almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika powder (optional)
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or more to taste) (optional)
130g dark chocolate chunks or chips


  1. Base line a 9 inch square baking tin with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 160 C/320 F/Gas 3.
  2. In a large non-stick saucepan, melt and mix the butter, coconut oil, sugars, syrup and honey over a low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats, cherries, almonds (if using) and spices (if using) until evenly combined. If there is too much syrup from the cherries in the mix, it may seem a little too 'loose'. If this is the case, just throw in an extra handful of oats.
  4. Allow to cool and then stir in the chocolate chunks. The timing of adding the chocolate chunks will depend on how you want your final flapjack to be. If you want a darker flapjack with chocolate all the way through, add the chocolate whilst the mixture is still warm enough to melt it as you stir. If you would prefer a dotted chocolate chunk mix, wait for the mixture to go cold before stirring in the chocolate chunks. 
  5. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin and spread evenly. Gently compress the top with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and starting to firm up at the edges. 
  7. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool. Whilst still warm, mark out the slices with a sharp knife.
  8. When the flapjack has cooled, remove from the tin and cut into pieces.
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  1. These look great - I have problems having my flapjacks stick together - maybe I need to have porridge oats rather than rolled oats - I think rice melt syrup or brown rice syrup would work well here too. And I have made flapjacsk with choc chips melting into them and I quite enjoyed them even though it wasn't the intention.

    1. Thanks Johanna. I think the syrups would definitely work well. flapjack is such a forgiving treat....

  2. I want to take some into work for both breakfast and lunch,yum. Thank you for sharing with WSC.

    1. You're welcome Shaheen..... I did actually eat a slice for breakfast this morning!

  3. Brilliant ideas here Kate =) I'm questioning why I haven't tried a chocolate chilli flapjack too. Like you've suggested, I always try to convince myself I'm being healthy with flapjack because the oats outdo the sugar! My mum does it with all sorts of oaty baked good too.

    1. Thanks Laura.... you MUST try the chilli addition..... it is quite a revelation!

  4. oooh, so lovely... I do love a chewy flapjack and the addition if chocolate and chilli can only be a good thing... I think I may make something very similar for WSC this month x

    1. Chewy choice for me every time Dom...... Can't wait to see what you make!

  5. WOW! What a lovely recipe Kate and I ADORE the addition of the spicy kick of chilli too! I am mindful to try to make these next week.....for an afternoon pick-me-up and treat!

  6. This may be right up We Should Cocoa's street, but it tis most definitely up mine. I want one of these so badly Kate! They look fantastic. I love a good flapjack, but for some unaccountable reason haven't made any for ages and I've never made them with cherries and chilli before.

    Thankfully I bought some oats today as I;'m just about out - roll on tomorrow ;-)

    Thanks for playing along with WSC - fab entry :)

    1. Thanks Choclette. Always make it a rule to have extra oats in the house....... especially for flapjack! You never know when the urge may take you.......

  7. A colleague brought home made flapjacks to work today and it reminded me that it's been a while since I baked flapjacks! Last time I made a chocolate chip one, I did exactly what you did and the chocolate chips melted.I had to make a second batch! Intrigued by your use of chili and paprika here - great idea! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

    1. Thanks Ros. The chilli and paprika are not overpowering and are quite addictive...... perfect for a warming winter glow!

  8. They look fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing with Tea Time Treats :)
    Janie x


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