I have always wanted to make my own granola-type bars and when I stumbled on Nigella’s Breakfast Bar recipe recently, I was determined to give it a try. In the process, I discovered a couple of things. First, condensed milk in Canada doesn’t come in a 14oz. can (at least not in my grocery store), so I bought 2 8oz. cans and, rather than waste, I just increased the oatmeal slightly to compensate. Secondly, I discovered these are really great bars, that keep well and actually taste better the second and third day! Now honestly, I don’t think condensed milk is the lowest calorie/fat product on the block, but it’s a lovely base for this bar and there is a lot of other good stuff in there to more than compensate, I think.
Not only that, this is a great base recipe that can be customized to anyone’s tastes very easily, so you can go nuts (no pun intended) at the bulk food store and pick up all kinds of dried fruits, seeds, nuts, chocolate chips etc. that you like and then just experiment at will.
Nigella’s Breakfast Bars
2-8oz cans sweetened condensed milk (original recipe calls for 1-14oz can) *My note: I recently tried these with Eagle Brand™ condensed milk and really enjoyed them more that just generic condensed milk. Eagle Brand is also available in low and no fat varieties.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant) (original recipe calls for 2-1/2 cups)
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (or other seeds)
1 cup natural unsalted almonds (or other nuts) (original recipe calls for peanuts)
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and oil a 9- x 13-inch baking pan or just use a disposable aluminum foil one.
2. Warm the condensed milk in a large pan.
3. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute.
4. Spread the mixture into the oiled or foil pan and press down with a spatula or, better still, your hands to make the surface even.
5. Bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and six down, to make 24 chunky bars. Let cool completely before removing from pan.
Store in a cookie tin. Makes 24 bars.
Updated: I’ve made these bars a lot of times and recently have started toasting the oats and pumpkin seeds ahead, by placing them on a baking sheet and popping in a 400° F. oven for about 10 minutes (keep an eye on them and remove when they start to slightly colour). Toasting the oats gives them a nice bit of extra flavour.