Energy Bars

energybarsthumb.JPGThis is an experimental attempt to make a compact, durable, tasty, high-energy foodstuff suitable for carrying and eating while walking, exploring and hiking.

That's not a new idea of course - Kendal Mint Cake is an example of just such a food, and compact food rations have been made for military use at various times.

Where It All Started

This experiment grew out of idle curiosity about trying to recreate the military D Ration chocolate bars developed in the 1930s - these were made of a mixture of oat flour and chocolate (or at least an assortment of ingredients roughly equivalent to those in modern chocolate.

I still intend to pursue the idea of making the D Ration bars (to resolve a question in my head that I will discuss when I get to it), but I need to find a source of oat flour - my food processor won't mill it finely enough.


I wanted to make something that meets as many of the following criteria as possible:

  • Compact to carry - must fit in a pocket
  • Durable - must not melt if kept at body temperature or exposed to sunlight, must not crumble if crushed, or when bitten
  • High-energy - must deliver a fairly immediate boost of easily-digestible food value (and ideally some slower-release energy too)
  • Easy to eat - must not be too crunchy or too chewy, must not be so hard or soft as to require a knife or a spoon.
  • Nutritious - must address dietary requirements beyond simple energy

energybars1.JPGI started with a collection of ingredients pulled from the cupboard

- A couple of bars of cheap chocolate, some prunes, sultanas, dried dates and candied mixed citrus peel and a generous cup of rolled oats.

energybars2.JPGI don't want these to be flapjacks, so I ground the oats to fine meal in the food processor.

Fine oatmeal (i.e. bought already processed to a fine texture) could have been used instead, or oat flour.

energybars3.JPGI also processed the dried fruit (about 250g, mixed, in total) along with the oats until finely chopped.

The purpose of this is to try to get a fairly homogeneous end result that isn't made fragile by large clusters of fruit pieces.

energybars4.JPGThe chocolate is just a couple of bars of cheap supermarket-own brand chocolate - about 30% cocoa solids - nothing special, but not desperately poor quality either - one bar each of milk and dark.

I broke it into pieces and melted it - this could have been done in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of boiling water, but it's easier to do in the microwave - carefully checking every 30 seconds so as not to burn it.

energybars5.JPGOnce the chocolate is melted, it's necessary to work quite fast.

I added the oats and fruit mixture to the melted chocolate and stirred it together with a table knife - eventually, it formed a kind of stiff dough.

energybars6.JPGI put the mixture in a shallow pan, lined with baking parchment, then spread it out and pressed down with the flat bottom of my measuring cup.

Then I covered it and left in a cool place for an hour or two.

energybars7.JPGLater, I removed it from the pan, trimmed off the edges and cut it into neat pieces.

These I wrapped in new parchment paper to make them easy to open with gloved hands - a plastic bag would probably do just as well, if not better in some ways.

What Was It Like?

Pretty good - the result was a solid, slightly chewy bar that is easy to handle and seems like it should be durable. The flavour and texture was pretty good too - satisfying to munch and the combination of fruit and chocolate was just about right.



There's probably still room for improvement here - although it's undoubtedly crammed with energy in the form of carbohydrates and fats, it could perhaps benefit from a little more protein - maybe some ground almonds or something... further experiments to follow...