Just a general guess but a majority of you reading this would have ancestors who migrated from another country. Whether you are a second, third or even fourth generation of a convict, farmer or noble man; going to primary school was a cultural battle ground. I am an Australian Born Chinese (or ABC as the young people say); so school was particularly hard time for me. While Australian, American culture pulled me in with it flashy, artful displays; my home life on a completely different colour spectrum. This made itself very clear every time I opened my lunch box.
I had a typical lunch box. Not one that had cartoons on it but a bright yellow one which had the compartments for each food. On the outside everyone’s lunch box look similar in the storage room however once they were opened, it told a different story. My parents did the best they could to provide me with the foods that I whined and complained about. Individually packaged Chips, chocolate bars and the blue coloured juices that looked so attractive in the plastic wrap were the things I wanted most. Sure the colours in them may have driven me in an insane sugar rush but at that time all I cared about was fitting in to the cool crowd.
It is funny how as a kid I thought there was a difference between getting chips in a individual packages compared to buying a whole big package and separating it at home yourself. However you could see who was a fully ingrained in the culture and those who tired. Of course as I got older the lunch box seem to lose it significance in class room status but it still resonates with me as a important memory.
So what was in my lunch box? As I said before it was normally sandwich with some kind of peanut butter or lunch ham filling, a juice or soy milk of some kind, finally finishing with saltine crackers. All of this was obtained from the Chinese store down the road. You might be able to see why the muted tones of the packaging were no match to the plastic fanatic of the supermarket.
So I know that the American kids are going back to school soon; so lunch time snacks that actually have a bit of nutrition are on the menu. The problem is that kids do not really care about healthy as much as the parents do; however in an effort to help anyone battle the kids I made a snack bar you can pack happy in to their lunch box. Bases of coconut oil, whole grain flours, whole seeds and carob are definitely on trend these days; I combined these into Crisp Carob and Peptide Carmelita bars.
The base is a palm sugar oat base which like digestive with that slight salty undertone. The middle filling is a can of caramelised condense milk which all kids would love. Also the appeal of making a can of caramel condense milk would warm your heart to preparing kid snacks. The crispy textured pumpkin seed sand carob chip studded topping stay surprising crisp even once it has been exposed to elements.
My secret? Whole made, wholemeal panko crumbs. I cannot tell you how much this ingredient is a game changer in making crispy toppings for sweet bars. While crumble is not the best thing to pack every day; you can happily take this along and be satisfied at the 3pm slump.
I have made these bars twice so far they are that easy and that good. So let me clear up the bars.
Morish, salt sweet, whole meal cookie base. Chewy comforting milk caramel. Long lasting crisp carob chip and seed topping.
You know you want to make these Crisp Carob and Peptide Carmelita bars.
Crisp Carob and Peptide Carmelita bars
125g Melted and cooled coconut butter 190g grated palm sugar 1 egg 5ml vanilla extract 85g whole meal flour 65g oat flour 100g quinoa flakes
250g caramelised condense milk
TOPPING 125g coconut butter, softened 75g whole meal flour 3g nutmeg ground 100g grated palm sugar 55g pumpkin seeds, raw 60g carob chips
75g whole meal panko
Pre heat oven to 180C. Line a shallow slice tray (mine is 20 cm by 29cm but anything along those line will do) with baking paper. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, salt wholemeal flour, oat flour and quinoa flakes. Mix well. Make a well in the centre. Pour in melted coconut butter, egg and vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to mix in. Push into the prepared tray and flatten. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. For topping, in a medium bowl combine flour, nutmeg, sugar and 30g panko. Rub in soft coconut
butter. Pour over caramel. Sprinkle over pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle over topping. After sprinkle over carob chips and remaining panko. Bake in the oven for a further 25 to 30 minutes until the top turn light tan colour.
Cool in tray then fridge for 2 hours before cutting into rectangles. I got 20 from my tray but you may cut them larger if you wish.