FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}

When it comes to food, my husband is like Jekyll and Hyde. On the one hand, he’s a staunch believer in the goodness of celery and fruit, and is never happier than when presented with a plate full of freshly steamed vegetables or a crunchy salad. He is far more likely than me to suggest a healthy option when our son asks for a snack. On the other hand, he’s known for sneaking chocolate biscuits a minute before dinner is served! I called him out on that the other day, as a certain 4-year old was watching and taking notes.

FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}

He likes his desserts with some fruit in them. Nay, he prefers fruit salad for dessert. He will rarely eat any cakes I bake (and I bake a lot!) but will always devour any wagon wheel slice I leave on the kitchen bench. So, when it came to creating something sweet for Valentine’s Day, I knew just what he would like: FruChocs Cookie Bars. FruChocs are an iconic confectionery manufactured by a local company, Robern Menz. The Menz factory is extremely local; in fact, it is located at the end of the street on which Alex grew up!

FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}

The business has a long history; in fact, it is one of the oldest businesses in South Australia, having been established in 1850. FruChocs were invented the year before my mother was born – 1948! There are loads of good reasons to add this popular confectionery to our baking. First and foremost, my husband’s favourite flavour combination is dried apricot and chocolate, and that is what these are – an apricot filling covered in either milk or dark chocolate. Add them to your cookie bars and there’ll be no turning back!

FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}

FruChocs Cookie Bars {gluten-free option}
Tangy dried fruit, coated in milk chocolate and then baked into soft, chewy cookie bars.

Makes 16 squares

55g (½ stick/2 oz) butter, softened at room temperature*
3 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or other neutral oil
¾ cup soft brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup caster (super-fine) sugar
1 large egg**
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup plain wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
¾ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking (bicarb) soda
¼ teaspoon salt
206g (1 cup) Menz mini FruChocs***

Preheat your oven to 180C/350 degrees F. Grease and line a 20cm (8-inch) square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

With an electric hand mixer, or in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream your butter, oil, and sugars on medium speed until pale and creamy.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix on medium until everything is well blended.

In a medium bowl, sift together wholemeal flour, plain all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (See Notes)

Dump the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix on low until the cookie dough is barely blended. You still want to see streaks of flour. Remove beaters and fold in the Fruchocs as well as you can.

Press mixture into prepared tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing from tin and cutting into squares.

*Use vegan butter or margarine
**Replace with 3 tablespoons aquafaba
***Use vegan FruChocs instead

Adapted from the Displaced Housewife

FruChocs are gluten-free, so just replace flours with your favourite GF blend to make these bars gluten-free.

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