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Adventures of a Food-Obsessed Local: on a new you for 2022 and discovering the marvels of malt

Our resident foodie Jan Fullwood shares her recipe for her chocolately malty flapjack…

With February now here, we’ve had time to settle into 2022 after another slightly strange Christmas. With the promise that a New Year brings, resolutions will have been made, and perhaps already abandoned, whether it was Veganuary, or dry January, or just ‘get through in one piece’ January in this strange new world.

But New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken and shouldn’t all be about extremes. Small changes are often more effective and little bit of what you fancy along the way always does you good. 

So no diet food here this month. Instead, I am sharing my chocolate malty flapjack recipe with you. The secret ingredient turns these from a naughty treat into something altogether more worthy of a fresh and positive start to the year.

I’ve always been slightly obsessed with malt (I’ve a long term addiction to Maltesers – don’t leave me alone with a bag) so I try to recreate that flavour in my baking wherever possible. The sugar in malt extract is mainly maltose, which is easily digested, so as well as providing energy from carbohydrates it also contains a long list of nutrients: protein, essential amino acids, vitamins B2, B3, and B6; the minerals iron, calcium, and potassium; and the micro-minerals magnesium, manganese and selenium. So although still a sugar, it makes a good replacement for the empty calories of refined sugars. Perfect for making a change to your diet without even trying. Use it in cakes, malt loaf or breads for that lovely malty flavour.

Hertfordshire’s malty history

In fact, Hertfordshire has a long history of producing malt, along with the associated industry of brewing. Although many of the old maltings are long gone, and buildings have been repurposed (think Ware maltings for a great example of this) malt is still produced locally. One such place is French and Jupps‘ Maltings in Stanstead Abbotts.  It’s a thriving business centre but also still very much a working factory that has been producing malt for the brewing and food industry for over 300 years, using locally grown barley where possible. Think beer and whisky but also malted milk biscuits and Ovaltine or Horlicks, even gravy granules, and you’ll see just how much malt is already in our diets.

If you’re over Stanstead Abbotts way, perhaps on a riverside walk, and you smell that roasty toasty aroma as you pass by, stop off at the Maltings Coffee Shop. Opened in 2020, it serves the community of small businesses on site but is open to the general public.

This business centre Maltings Business Centre is also now the home to Serendipity Cafe’s online business when Carly moved from the Hertford cafe site. Check out her food delivery options at Serendipity Hertford, perfect for a treat on special occasions.

Talking of which, I’m pleased to say that Hertford House owned The Storehouse has finally opened in the space left by Serendipity in Parliament Square, Hertford. Not just a deli, it also serves all day breakfast, small plates pizza and sandwiches to eat in or take away. Another one to try in 2022.

But back to business with the flapjack. For baking purposes, buy Malt extract from health food shops. It comes in a jar as a syrup and can be used in place of golden syrup, honey or black treacle for a different flavour twist. Perfect for the kids’ lunchboxes, or a treat with a cup of tea or coffee for a sneaky sit-down for a 10 minute break. 

Don’t beat yourself up over lost resolutions, just keep positive and look forward to trying something new in 2022.

Malty chocolate flapjack

Makes 16

Prep 15mins

Cook 25-30mins

200g butter or vegan spread

75g barley malt extract oil (lightly coat a spoon with a thin film of oil to make it easier to spoon out of the jar)

75g unrefined light brown sugar

275g rolled porridge oats

2 tbsp cocoa powder

50g dark chocolate chips (ensure it’s dairy free to make it vegan)

75g chopped dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots, sour cherries or cranberries 

50g White chocolate, melted (use a dairy free alternative to make it vegan)

1 Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas mark 3

2 Melt the butter, malt and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Take care not to boil.

3 Stir in the oats, cocoa, chocolate chips and dried fruit and press into the tin, levelling the top.

4 Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown.

5 Allow to cool in the tin to set, then lift out onto a board with the baking paper.

6 Drizzle with the melted chocolate and allow to set.

7 Cut into 16 pieces and discard the baking paper.  Keep in an airtight container for up to a week (if you can resist for that long).

8. Sit down and enjoy with a beverage of your choice 

Ed’s note: Happeninginherts.com to wind down

Unfortunately, we are winding down Happeninginherts.com due to work commitments. We want to say a big thank you for everyone who has supported the website and our projects over the past two years and everyone who has written for the site, taken part in our podcast, purchased our grocery boxes, advertised in our advertorials or participated in our photo competitions – and a big thank you to everyone who has supported the Dog Calendar project (we raised another £850 this year for St Andrews School and ALFS animal foodbank thanks to you) and our Lockdown Awards. The site will stay up and the content will remain available.

Thank you and stay safe, people!


Jan Fullwood
Author: Jan Fullwood

Jan Fullwood is a Hertford-based Food and Recipe Consultant who unashamedly loves her food and cooks for both work and pleasure. Her delicious mini fruit cakes feature in our Happeninginherts Shop Local graze boxes and in our online shop.

Jan Fullwood

Jan Fullwood is a Hertford-based Food and Recipe Consultant who unashamedly loves her food and cooks for both work and pleasure. Her delicious mini fruit cakes feature in our Happeninginherts Shop Local graze boxes and in our online shop.

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