It’s that time of the year when people cherish the magic of Christmas. And the season would not be the same without the good things to create or buy, including traditional, seasonal produce that spices up the season.

Gozo's Favorite: Qaqħaq tal-Għasel

Treacle Rings or ‘Qaqħaq tal-Għasel’, are among the favourite Christmas fare. The pastry rings, which have a soft filling of black treacle, orange peel, honey and a variety spices were in olden days known as ‘Qaqħaq tal-Qastanija’, possibly implying the use of chestnuts.

Here is an authentic recipe:

The Pastry: For the pastry, you will need:500gr plain flour

200gr unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg yolk

Some water

Rub the butter into the flour and then add the sugar and egg yolk. Mix well and knead, adding water if need be. Leave the pastry to rest until you’re ready to start preparing the rings.

The Filling:

400gr treacle

200gr caster sugar

2 cups water

150gr semolina

A tablespoon of each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

A tablespoon of orange blossoms water

A tablespoon of cocoa powder

Orange and lemon zest and juice

Some anisette

Take all the ingredients with the exception of the semolina, put them in a pot and slowly bring them to boil. Let the mixture simmer and whilst stirring add the semolina until you have a thick mixture. Let the mixture cool down completely before tackling the rings.

Preparing the Rings:   Take the pastry and after rolling it out, cut it out into strips.  Keep in mind that the length of the strips will determine the circumference of the rings.  Place the filling in the centre of the strips and roll over the pastry to create rope-like shapes.  Create rings and then use a knife to make slits at regular intervals. Bake the rings in a moderately hot oven until the rings are looking lightly golden in colour.

Once the rings are baked, you can enjoy them with tea or coffee or even with a glass of wine at dinner. And finally keep in mind that they also make lovely homemade gifts, so why not give them a festive packaging and share them with friends and family!

On the other hand, if you’re too rushed to get into the baking mood, or you can’t be bothered to source the ingredients then simply visit your favourite bakery or confectionery and bite into the sweetness!