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I modified this recipe for survival bars by moving the sugar to the wet ingredients and boiling them on the stove until soft-ball stage. My goal was to reduce the moisture in the bars and add a more toffee-like taste and consistency. I also ended up reducing the dry ingredients because the result was very crumbly otherwise.

Here's my modified recipe:

Boil together on stove until soft-ball stage:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 80g jelly powder (jello for USA folks, flavour of choice. I found orange was the best)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp honey

Working quickly, take off the heat and add in 1.5 cups oats and 1.5 cups milk powder. Mix until combined. Press into pre-prepared lined and buttered dish. Bake at 180 C for 5-7 min and cut into bars while warm. The baking stage is technically optional because everything is edible already, but baking gives a nice nutty crunch.

I've worked with sugar and candymaking quite a bit before (toffee, nut brittles, fudge), but have never made anything quite like this. In particular, I wasn't sure how the jelly powder and milk powder will affect the result. It turned out amazingly well. Much better than expected. The bars taste very very similar to commercially produced oat energy bars. The jelly flavour does come through slightly but not very much.

I'm still not quite sure what the jelly and milk powder are for in this recipe. Since there's very little water in the recipe at all, I don't know if the jelly is even necessary here. It seems like too heavy a recipe for the gelatine in the jelly to be "jellifying" anything. The milk powder seems to be doing the job of absorbing the sugar syrup, but I was wondering if I could use something else to do that job instead. Like flour? I didn't really detect a milky flavour to these at all. (Again, no water in the recipe to hydrate the milk. These bars make you really thirsty!)

So I'm wondering what roles these ingredients play, and if they are even necessary. It would be great to switch the milk powder out for something else to reduce the thirst factor.

(Aside question: I've never seen this kind of recipe before (sugar syrup + powder). Is it a fairly common combination or is it really a strange combination?)

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    Pure speculation but I reckon it would be a bit sticky without the jelly as a binder, like undercooked flapjack. The milk powder may be to add a bit of protein (skimmed milk powder is about 1/3 protein) while soaking up some water. If you had to reduce the dry ingredients anyway, you might be able to omit it, or use nut flour of some sort if it's too sticky. – Chris H Aug 5 '18 at 17:54
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    I believe gelatine is used by the body in building cartilage and is helpful in preventing and recovering from injury. Milk powder is possibly providing a useful amount of protein. I suspect they are there for nutritional rather than the physical properties of the bar. – Spagirl Aug 5 '18 at 20:29
  • Are you using flavored gelatin (which could go by the brand name Jello) or unflavored gelatin (which is just that in the US). You say the "gelatin flavor comes through" if "Jello" then what flavor? – Cos Callis Aug 5 '18 at 23:00
  • @CosCallis I am using flavoured jelly/jello (one trial was pineapple and the other was orange). When I referred to gelatine I mean the gelatine part of the jelly (which is otherwise just sugar and flavouring I believe) because that has the jellifying action. – user61949 Aug 6 '18 at 4:52

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