These are just about the best energy bars, simple to make, packed full of dates or any dried fruit, they keep well and make a great gift.

250g madjool dates or other dried fruit, large sultanas are good

rind and juice of 1 orange

180g butter

80g sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons golden syrup

320g oats

Set oven 180c gas 4     line a 20cm square tin with non-stick baking paper

To cook, remove the stones from the fruit & chop if necessary, place the fruit in a pan over a gentle heat, add the rind and juice, stir well, put a lid on the pan, allow the fruit to soften, sometimes, I add a drizzle of golden syrup if necessary, it will depend on how soft the fruit is. When the fruit is like a chunky paste , remove from the heat and set aside. In another saucepan, melt the butter add the sugar, cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook for a few moments, then add the syrup & vanilla, stir well and remove from the heat. Add the oats, combine well. Tip half the mixture into the lined tin, spread evenly. Next, tip in the fruit mixture, smooth out into an even layer. Now add the remainder of the oat mix. Spread it out & with the back of a spoon or a wet hand, press down the mixture. You could sprinkle the top with a little more sugar for extra crunch. Place the tin in the oven and bake for 25/30 minutes. Cool in the tin then cut into 12 squares. Store in an airtight container.