Well hello there! I'm back! After over a month of living in France I feel just about settled into the English way of life once again. In fact, ma vie comme au pair seems like a very distant memory now. Was it really less than 2 weeks ago that I was drinking a panaché with beautiful views of a lake and never-ending mountain ranges, thankful that the sun had set so I would no longer be in the blistering heat? Looking outside at the dreary skies now, it's difficult to believe, but yes, I was. Take me back....!
It wasn't all as perfect as that though. I mean, Provence can be as pretty as it likes but when you're looking after a stroppy 4 year old and trying for the millionth time not to get in an argument with him, there are suddenly more important things to focus your attention on than the stunning scenery! One thing I did miss when I was in France was baking. Which goes without saying of course. Somehow the family I was au pairing for managed to live in a flat without an oven so even if I'd had the time to bake for them, it would have been pretty impossible!! I did have my fair share of sweet patisseries though which did make up for it, but I was quite excited to get back to a spacious kitchen with an oven when I came back home!
As you know, my Dad likes to grow various fruit and veg in the garden and at the moment the apple tree is laden with fruit just waiting to be eaten. Of course, they're not eating apples so I have happily volunteered to come up with some baked treats that have apples in them. As much as I love apple pies and crumbles, I wanted to come up with something a bit less conventional and I must admit it was a bit of experiment! An experiment that worked though thankfully. I've wanted to have a go at making some kind of 'healthy' granola bars for a while now and I will definitely be having a go at trying other flavours in them as they have certainly proved a hit! They wouldn't really win any awards for their looks as they're a bit crumbly and are not particularly easy to eat, but they taste delicious and wholesome. I think they'd be perfect as a morning snack with a coffee or equally as good for breakfast, crumbled over some natural yoghurt and fresh berries. And I'd like to think they're good for you as well, but with the caramel sauce I'm not sure about that one...! But we all deserve a little sweet treat every day and when summer's over we need something to cheer us up - I can guarantee that these little bites of goodness will do just that!!
Caramel Apple Granola Bars (makes 15 bars)
3 Cooking Apples
4tsp Granulated Sugar
30ml Golden Syrup (I used one with maple flavouring but it doesn't have to be!)
240g Porridge Oats
40g Flaked Almonds
40g Pecan Nuts, chopped
25g Pumpkin Seeds
25g Sunflower Seeds
100g Caster Sugar
60ml Double Cream
- Begin by making the baked apple chips and preheat the oven to 90 degrees.
- Core the apples and slice thinly.
- Place on a prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
- Bake in the oven for an hour.
- Turn the slices over and bake for another hour.
- Turn the oven off but leave the apple in there until completely cool.
- Next make the caramel sauce by placing the sugar in a pan and adding 1 1/2 tbsp water.
- Heat on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn the heat right up and bubble for 4-5 minutes until it turns a caramel colour.
- Take off the heat and carefully stir in the cream and butter.
- Set aside to cool.
- In a small pan, melt the butter and golden syrup.
- In a large bowl mix the oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds together.
- Pour the melted butter and golden syrup over the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Spread the granola out onto a baking tray in a thin even layer.
- Bake for 20 mins until golden brown, stirring every now and then so it doesn't stick.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Pour into a large bowl and stir through the caramel sauce, apple slices chopped into small pieces and raisins.
- Press the granola into a lined baking tray and put aside to completely set.
- Once set, remove from baking tray, cut into slices and enjoy!