Middle Eastern and European sweets made from nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a sweet syrup binding — such as gozinaki in Georgia and pasteli in Greece — have been around for centuries. Here, the essential idea ﬁnds new life as an uncomplicated, nourishing energy bar. Before you start making plans to substitute your favorite brand of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for the speciﬁed syrups, hear me out: it will not work. Instead of a stack of bars, you will have a pile of crumbles. I could go into a lengthy chemical discussion about the structure and properties of various sugars, but I won’t (which will simultaneously disappoint my retired chemist father, but please my editor). Just trust me on this one and I know you will be thrilled with your results.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Stir together the nuts or seeds, cereal, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Add the syrup and salt to the nut mixture and stir until evenly coated.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap (coated with nonstick cooking spray) on top of the bar mixture and use it to spread, ﬂatten, and very ﬁrmly compact the mixture evenly in the pan. Discard the paper or plastic.
Bake in the preheated oven for 17 to 20 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges, but still somewhat soft at the center. Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.
Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 10 bars. Cool completely.