A Tray of Treats

a tray of treats
It was my wife’s birthday last week and to celebrate the occasion we organised a large-scale family walk. About thirty of us. It was a cold but bright Sunday, and the weather was dry, which was lucky as it’d been tipping it down non-stop the day before.
And as it’s nice to provide something tasty at the end of a stout stroll I made a tray of treats which were warmly welcomed by all when we got back to the cars: Chocolate Tiffin (milk and dark), Baklava, Yorkshire Parkin and three types of sausage rolls (vegetarian, and mustard and black pudding laced versions). The sausage rolls were cooked just before we left for the park and wrapped first in foil and then in a bath towel. Three hours later they still had the breath of the oven on them and were soft and warm. As you can see from the photo they were the first to go.Looking over previous posts you’ll see I’m a keen collector of kitchenalia (look at the sandwich toasters), and some years ago I picked up a giant four litre capacity army thermos flask. I filled that with hot chocolate and with the aid of a ladle and some paper cups we warmed up the walkers nicely while they tucked into their refreshments.

Chocolate Tiffin Cake

400g digestive biscuits (crushed to death)
250g butter
6 tablespoons golden syrup
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g chopped walnuts
50g chopped pistachios
15 or so glace cherries
100g raisins
a generous splash of Kahlua
300g chocolate (milk, dark, or white, whatever you prefer)

You’ll need a couple of 20cm square cake tins, or use your GCSE maths skills to calculate approximately 800 square centimetres in something else – so a 32cm diameter cake tin for example:
πr² when r=16. So 16 x 16 x π = 804cm² (to the nearest cm²)
and that’s close enough.

(SEE, your maths teacher told you it’d be useful. Very good for cooking and very good for home DIY too I’ve found)

Line your tin or tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the syrup and the cocoa and stir, and then add everything else except the chocolate and mix it all together.

Tumble the mixture into the tin and even it out pressing it to compact it together – I use a potato masher to tamp it down. Then set it aside.

Melt the chocolate by either setting it in a bowl over simmering water, or I personally prefer to just break it into a bowl and put that into a warm oven for a few minutes. When it’s melted spoon it over the mixture and spread it out.

Leave to cool, cut into rectangles. That’s it.


20 layers of filo pastry (you’ll need a reasonably deep oven tray that’s about 20 x 30cm, so one sheet might do two layers, depending on the size of the pastry)
200g butter
250g nuts (I used about half cashews and half pistachios, but I’ve used walnuts, pecans, and even thrown in a few sesame seeds and toasted pumpkin seeds before too to make up the bulk)
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
the seeds from about 7 green cardamoms
half a teaspoon cinnamon powder
an extra 20 or so pistachios

For The Syrup:
300g white sugar (or brown sugar)
250ml water
the juice of half a lemon
1.5 tablespoons orange blossom water

Heat the oven to 180C

Melt the butter. Brush a little on the bottom of the tin and then lay in a sheet of filo. Brush on more butter, and then another sheet. Do this until you’ve done 10 layers.

Chop, (or food process) the nuts (reserving the 20 or so extra pistachios) and mix with the demerara and the cinnamon. Grind the cardamom seeds to a powder and stir in, and then arrange in a layer on the filo. Then do as before ten more layers of filo and butter, brushing the top layer with butter at the end.

Carefully cut the baklava into the shapes you want (diamonds, triangles etc) before putting in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes and then drop the temperature to 150C for a further 40 minutes.

While the bakala is baking make the syrup by putting all the syrup ingredients in a pan, bring it to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 mins on a low heat until nice and syrupy.

When the baklava is baked spoon over the hot syrup.

Finally chop the extra pistachios finely and sprinkle a little mound on top of each piece. Wait until cool before completing the cuts and lifting them out.

SO GOOD with a strong coffee.

Yorkshire Parkin (Vegan, almost, if you don’t count the egg white)

110g wholemeal self-raising flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
75g medium oatmeal
175g golden syrup
50g black treacle
110g olive oil
110g brown sugar
2 egg whites
a little soya milk

Set the oven to 140C, and rub a little olive oil over the inside of a long loaf tin. Line the bottom with baking parchment.

Mix the dry ingredients together.

In a pan mix together the syrup, treacle, oil and sugar and bring up to a simmer, then add this to the dry ingredients and mix.

Add the two egg whites, mix again, and then add a little milk until you’ve got the consistency of a pouring batter.

Pour this into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Ideally put the cooled parkin, cut into squares or sticks, in a tupperware box for a good 4-5 days before eating as this will help it develop the heavy sticky syrupy consistency that you’re after.

Sausage Rolls

Bought puff pastry, bought good sausages with skins removed, bought black pudding, bought vegetarian sausage mixture, mustard, sesame seeds, brushed with egg wash. Easy. Don’t need a recipe for that.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Spanish Tortillas and ‘Crazy Town’ | Mealmen

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