Sunday, 4 October 2015


Pecan Chocjack
Ingredients: 500g porridge oats, 250g Stork (plus extra for greasing), 250g brown sugar, 5 tablespoons golden syrup, 300g chocolate, and 150g pecan nuts.
Time taken: 40 minutes-ish. Then an hour break. Then a half hour more in the kitchen.

Hello ladies and gentlemen,
I write to you, ensconced in a duvet, on a cloudy Sunday afternoon in autumn. It’s been my first week at work this week, starting my first adult job, in a proper office wearing real business clothes. I’ve been getting to know my colleagues and learning basic tasks to help them out. It’s been a big week for me! A big week indeed. I have a desk, I have clients asking for me on the phone, I have a target number of phone calls to make each day. I can name about half of my colleagues in the office, and I think most of them remember my name, too.
So that’s it. I have to hang on another 4 weeks til I’m paid, but my name’s been added to the clock-in sheet and I’ve been given an extension number on the phone line. I’m deffo there to stay. And it feels like a big step towards adulthood! Getting on the morning bus with other commuters every day, and then pouring a well-earned glass of wine on a Friday evening.  This is the real deal.
And I have my weekends back! After 3 years of uni deadlines, which don’t clock out on a Friday and leave you in peace. No no. Instead, they haunt you anytime you dare dream of a Saturday morning lie in, or (heaven forbid!) pouring an evening bath on a Sunday. These have been such guilty pleasures for years for me now. But, as of this weekend… they aren’t.
This weekend, I had my Sheff BFFs over for cake and a catch up, and we talked so long we even had a second round of hot drinks! I bought a weekend newspaper and read it cover to cover. Caught up with my little brother and heard all about his teen adventures. Watched the dancers on Strictly. Today, I accompanied my dad around the supermarket, buying anything on offer. Now, here I sit. Working my way through the Vicar of Dibley box set on TV. Totally content!
I tell you readers, for now at least, this is the life for me. I can go on Facebook. There, one of the geography girls from uni has got engaged this weekend. And one of the girls from my secondary school, she’s given birth to the sweetest little baby boy I may ever have seen. And then I can log off. Pour a bath. Do whatever I feel like doing.
My life may not be the most thrilling in the world right now, I may not be travelling the world or becoming a mother, I’m not running for the London Tube or admiring a big ring on my finger. And how exciting for those girls who are! But I’m happy right now to be joining the world of work in Sheffield and chilling on the weekends. Happy indeed.
Are YOU readers? Are you happy this week? What is it that’s made you happy this week? Maybe the weather? … the Bake Off on TV? … or a gift? … a holiday? … maybe  friends and family? … the start of something new? … something great?? I hope that you have been happy this week. Very happy.
And that, maaaybe, you’ve spread that happiness, too?? You could have bought someone a drink or a present! Told them they look beautiful. You could have done all the chores or done nothing at all! Just spent time with someone instead. Brightened their day. Have you been spreading happiness, readers?? I hope you have and that there are a lot of happy people out there right now. Sort of thanks to you.
On Thursday, readers, I made the call that I needed to spread some happiness. And sooo… I got my bake on!! Piled in from work in the evening and turned on the oven, with my mind set on baking some flapjack. It was on. I thought a big batch of flapjack was just what the folk at work needed to see them through Friday in the office. My mission was clear.
Why flapjack? Well, readers, it’s quite a short and straightforward recipe. And there’s nothing too offensive about flapjack, is there?? I think most people quite like it. Everyone knows what it is. Flapjack goes quite well alongside a mugful of tea or coffee. It’s not too messy to eat in an office. Plus, it’s not too prone to going terribly wrong in the oven. Perfecto!
So, readers, I had quite a cosy evening in on Thursday. I baked flapjack and had my tea while it cooled. Then decorated the flapjack and watched ‘Love and Other Drugs’ with a hot water bottle. Woke up in the morning to glorious sunshine, and spent my day at work getting big thank yous for my flapjack from everyone! It was a total hit! Not to brag, but I snaffled a square and it did taste quite delicious. And lots of people in the office thought so. They became a very cheerful bunch with Tupperware of flapjack in their midst. Very cheerful indeed.
So, this week readers, my message to you is to brighten someone’s day! Whether it’s by following this recipe and surprising everyone in your office, with a tasty sweet treat for them! Or whether it’s in an entirely different way. Use your imagination and spread some happiness. You’ll feel great about it.
So. Want to follow my lead, readers, and bake up a storrrrrm of happiness? Here’s how to bake a big batch of Pecan Chocjack in just ten easy steps…
1. Heat your over to 180˚C. Prep your chocolate by breaking it up into squares in a bowl. Prep your nuts by, first, setting your 18 best looking ones aside. Use your own good judgement here. Then, take the remaining lot and use your fingers to break them up into little nut pieces.
2. Measure your porridge oats, Stork, brown sugar and golden syrup all into a mixing bowl. Take a wooden spoon and get mixing! Stir like your life depends on it. There’s a lot of ingredients in that bowl and you want them all mixed together.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: 100% break that marg up before you put it in the bowl. Add half a knob all in one go and you’ll spend the best part of an hour trying to mix it in! Not the finest use of your time. And by then you’ll have overmixed everything else to a pulp. So chop up your marg pre-mixing bowl.
3. Grease a big baking dish quite generously with marg. Be sure, if your dish is rectangular like mine, that you get the marg right into the corners. This can be a real sticking zone for your flapjack.
4. Spoon all your mix into the baking dish and then use your wooden spoon to spread it around into the corners. Then, when your mix is evenly spread, sprinkle your broken-up pecan nuts over the top. Use your wooden spoon to tap everything down til it’s tightly packed.
5. Next, take some kind of implement like a knife or a spatula. Use this, with care, to divide your flapjack up into 18 squares. Then bung it in the oven!
ChefBeHere Top Tip: For reasons that will soon become apparent, time this so that your flapjack goes in the oven about 20 minutes before a show is about to start on TV. 20 minutes before.
6. Bake your flapjack in the oven for around 20 minutes, until it’s beginning to turn golden on top. Meanwhile, you can get your washing up done and wipe some oats off the ceiling. Then, carefully, pop your flapjack out of the oven onto the side and turn your oven off. Leave it to cool in its tin and get settled in front of the TV!
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Do not fear if your flapjack doesn’t seem to have set. It shouldn’t feel firm when it comes out of the oven. In fact, it will probably still be quite squishy to feel. This is because flapjack sets as it cools and the syrup goes hard. So, if your flapjack’s got a bit of movement in it when you take it out of the oven, that’s not a worry. It will firm up with time.
7. Return to the kitchen at least an hour after you took your flapjack out of the oven, by which time your flapjack should have cooled and set. There’s no upper limit to how long you can leave the flapjack cooling. Take your time.
8. When  you’re back in the kitchen, use your knife or spatula to go around the edge of the flapjack and try to prise it away from its tin. Also, go over the cuts dividing up the flapjack to separate it back into 18 squares. Get the squares out of the tin onto a cooling rack or, if you don’t have one, just pop them on some kitchen roll.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I realise that this step of the recipe is easier said than done. Your aim, obviously, is to lose as little flapjack as is possible along the way. I advise using a spatula to scrape the flapjack out of the tin one square at a time. Go slowly and with a steady hand. If your flapjack breaks up, try to squish it back together again.
9. Next, melt your chocolate, either in the microwave (heat for 30 secs at a time and stir in between heating until it’s smooth – be careful not to burn!) or melt it on the hob instead. If you’re using the hob, just boil some water in the kettle and pour it into a pan over a high heat. Sit your bowlful of chocolate over the pan and your chocolate should soon start to melt in the bowl. Keep giving it a stir until it’s smooth.
10. And the final step of the recipe is your flapjack decoration! Simply pour a teaspoonful of melted chocolate over each flapjack square, and spread it about so that most of the square is covered. Then pop one of your pretty pecans on top, to finish it off nicely. When all your flapjack squares have been decorated (and you yourself are entirely coated in chocolate) you can call it a day. Leave the squares to cool for a few hours until the chocolate is set, before you move them into Tupperware.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: I left mine overnight and think this is probably for the best. The chocolate had set for sure by morning.
There you have it… batch of Pecan Chocjack!
And that’s all there is to it. This is quite a straightforward recipe, readers, and quite a fun one, too! You can change this recipe up any way you like. Dark or white chocolate, instead of milk? Hazelnuts or Brazils, instead of pecans? Or just throw those nuts out the window if you aren’t keen, and usher in some dried fruit or chocolates instead?? Do what you like!
Go crazy, readers. Go forth and bake flapjack. And spread happiness! Love comes back.


Be happy readers,


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