I was sitting in a rather boring science class when I dreamed these bars up. The air conditioning was set to Arctic and I was hungry. I started thinking of roasted almonds, lightly dusted with salt. They didn't do it for me, so I switched to caramelised almonds in sugar. Somehow by the end of class that mutated to almonds and dates in a sticky chocolatey goo (incidentally, if you must have goo, it might as well be chocolatey, no?) stuck firmly atop a buttery biscuit.
That was in the last week of summer, when the temperatures rose to 46 degrees Celsius and at three in the afternoon, after slipping on melted butter and cussing a blue streak, I had my bars. I gave up eggs a while ago and it's a constant challenge to find other ingredients to substitute for them in my baking. For standard-issue date and nut tartelettes, a mixture of egg and sugar is used to bind everything together. I could've simply used sugar, but then I ran the risk of it getting too sweet or too hard. I thought about what it was in the egg that was so perfect for holding reluctant nuts together and realised it was the protein. Now, malt has protein too, of the wheat gluten sort. Malted drink mixes also contain sugar and chocolate flavouring. All it took was a little water and butter mixed with Bournvita and I had a substance as thick and goopy as my heart could desire. I chopped up some roasted almonds, peanuts and dates, mixed them with the Bournvita and spread it all on a disk of shortbread. This went into the oven until the top was scorched slightly and had settled into a decided crust.
After waiting for it to cool, I cut my disk into slices and shared one with the dog. He licked my hand in search of crumbs afterwards and hung around me chummily for the rest of the day.