Although they are not as readily available now, I still have cravings for many of the English puddings from my childhood. One of the popular baked goods I enjoyed was the deliciously chewy and sweet flapjacks made of rolled oats, butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. Since living in North America, I discovered that a flapjack is actually considered something else entirely and is a widely-known but lesser-used term for a pancake!
Having lived in several different countries, I am used to things going by different names. However, it turns out that the humble flapjack has so far taken the cake for its potential name and content variations throughout its existence. After many evolutions over the centuries, it was not until the early 1900s that it became the baked product that is known today as a flapjack in England .
How did flapjacks get their name?
The name flapjack appears to have originated in England in the 1600s and the term was used to describe a pancake or flat apple tart. According to M.D.B. Baker, at that time “flap” meant to ‘swing, sway, flutter, or flop’ and so this portion of the word references the act of flipping a pancake.
There appears to be no consensus as to what “jack” in flapjack means. Some speculate that the term “jack” had been used to refer to something that was smaller than normal which equates to the small size of a flapjack. However, Baker refers to the word “Jack”, in the 1400s, as meaning a male representative of the common people. In essence, an ordinary man much like the name “Joe“ is used today.
Recipe for the “Happy Pear” Flapjack
Although the traditional syrupy oat flapjack has been known to include additional ingredients such as chocolate, dried fruit, glace cherries, nuts, yoghurt, and toffee pieces, I recently came across a completely different creation altogether. This flapjack is a plant-based version of the popular treat from The Happy Pear’s, Recipes for Happiness.
I was intrigued by this recipe as although it is definitely not a pancake, neither does it appear to resemble the baked oat and syrup version of a flapjack either. This recipe definitely won’t appeal to die-hard flapjack fans … as least not if you are craving a traditional one! However, as a treat, it is a delicious combination of dried fruits, nuts and seeds combined with cacao butter to make a decadent healthy, nutritious, crunchy and chewy indulgence that can be used as snack, dessert or fuel food.
- 1/3 cup (50g) dried apricots
- 1/2 cup (50g) dried mango
- 1/2 cup (50 g) goji berries
- 7-8 (100g) pitted Medjool dates
- 2/3 cup (75g) pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup (25g) sunflower seeds
- 2/3 cup (75g) walnuts
- 1/4 cup (25g) pistachio nuts
- 1/2 cup (50g) desiccated coconut
- 1/2 cup (70g) chia seeds
- 1/3 cup (70 g) cacao butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g chocolate bar of your choice
- 5 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 4 tbsp cacao powder
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Finely chop the dried mango and apricots (makes it easier for food processor) and add them with the goji berries, dates, seeds, nuts, coconut, chia seeds and vanilla extract and pulse until well chopped but still some texture to them.
- Melt the coconut butter (use double boiler) and then add to the fruit, seed and nut mixture and combine.
- Line an 8 ‘x 8″ baking tray with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly (about 3cm thick) and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
- If using store-bought chocolate, melt the chocolate over a double boiler and then spread over fruit, nut and seed mixture.
- To make your own chocolate topping, melt coconut oil and add cacao powder and maple syrup and stir until smooth and then spread over the mixture as above.
- Place tray in the fridge for about 20 – 30 minutes and when cooled chop into 16 pieces.
- Store in airtight tin for about a week. (I have been freezing mine and taking them out about a half hour or so before eating.)
- If you don’t have cacao butter, coconut oil will work in its place although will result in the flapjack being slightly less firm.
- Feel free to melt your favourite chocolate bar for the topping. However, I have provided an alternative recipe to create your own. This chocolate will have a strong, slightly bitter taste but is oh so good for you (see Chocolate and the Difference between Cacao and Cocoa).
Although these treats are definitely unlike any flapjack I have ever tasted, the appeal of this healthy treat is that you can be creative with the ingredients and mix up the fruits, seeds and nuts as long you keep approximately the same volume of ingredients. I modified the original recipe replacing some of the walnuts with pistachio nuts and adding sunflower seeds in place of some of the pumpkin seeds to add colour and texture.
I tend to enjoy recipes with this type of versatility and considering the flapjack’s varied history, multiple namesakes and suspect name origins, perhaps a new meaning for flapjack should be something more akin to a treat that includes a mix and match of any and all of your favourite ingredients! Enjoy!
Other No Bake Treats: