Gypsy creams and gypsy tart

My dad always reckoned that we had some gypsy blood in us, but try as I might I can’t find any ancestor who could have been a gypsy or traveller; maybe it’s the dark colouring that some of us Elsdens have, olive skin and dark eyes, but I can’t find any connection at all.

I’d heard of gypsy creams, a type of biscuit I believe, a sort of gingernut with a chocolate buttercream filling… or are they an oaty biscuit with a chocolate buttercream filling or a chocolate biscuit with a chocolate buttercream filling, or are they a sweet wholemeal biscuit with a chocolate cream cheese filling… I actually don’t know because they didn’t feature in my childhood, and I’m not really a biscuit person anyway.

My hero Thomas Radwinter in my latest soon to be finished book has come across a gypsy tart, why I also had not heard of (OK, I confess, I was looking up traditional English desserts and came across gypsy tart and decided Thomas should have one) It sounds an interesting dessert, too sweet for me, of a sweet shortcrust base and a filling made from mainly evaporated and or condensed milk and muscovado sugar… good grief, I can feel my teeth cringing!

There are many different versions of the recipe, all along the same lines; for the shortcrust pastry I would use:

  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 oz castor sugar
  • 1 or 2 egg yolks depending on size
  1. rub butter, sugar and flour together, bind with egg yolks
  2. leave to chill
  3. press into pie dish and bake blind

I might double up the quantity, use what I needed and keep any leftovers for rather special jam tarts.

Suggested fillings:

  • 230ml condensed milk
  • 170ml evaporated milk
  • 175g light muscovado sugar


  • 400g evaporated milk
  • 330g muscovado sugar


  • 410g evaporated milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 275g dark soft brown sugar


  • 205g  evaporated milk
  • 140g  muscovado sugar
  • 2tbs lemon juice


  • 230ml condensed milk
  • 170ml evaporated milk
  • 175g muscovado sugar

I can’t offer my Mum’s recipe because she never made it! However, whatever the ingredients, here is what you do with the filling mix:

  1. put everything in a bowl and blend for at least ten minutes until light, frothy and fluffy
  2. pour into the prepared pastry case and bake 190C°, 375F°, Gas 5, for about 30 minutes (check after 20 minutes), r until just set and still a bit wobbly in the middle
  3. take out of the oven, leave to cool in the tin
  4. serve – with cream, crème fraîche, or yoghurt if you fancy


  1. David Lewis

    If you haven’t tried pecan pie from the southern states you don’t know what sweet is. Makes me gag just thinking about it. Had to drink six beer to get the taste out of my mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      I’ve only seen recipes for it… it does look tremendously sweet and sickly, despite my loving pecan nuts I don’t think I’mm going to try!
      Did your mum ever make treacle tart? That was sweet but cut by lemon juice… mind you, I haven’t eaten any for years so I probably wouldn’t like it now!


  2. David Lewis

    We had treacle on Guy Fawkes night as I recall but not tarts. Likes the potatoes from the fire better. Never keen on sweets, loved the taste of beer from the first taste. Does that make me normal?


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