Nostalgia and some Neenish tarts

Last week I booked tickets for the kids and I to do a fleeting pre Xmas visit to our relatives down South. This will be my first visit to Darfield where Nana won’t be there.  This time there will be no visit to Nana’s house and no rifling through the biscuit tins to see what she had been baking. No afghans, no Belgian biscuits, no shortbread, no cheese straws, and no Neenish tarts. No picking peas and eating them straight out of the pods. No digging new spuds. But thankfully, no sleeping in a bed that has the worst dip in the entire world.

Whenever I would visit Nana, there always certain things I’d have to check on. One was the photos hanging in the hall – these were photos of my dad and his brother in their various rugby and cricket teams over the years. (These are now hanging in my dining room.) I’d always look at the childrens books that Nana had saved. And for some reason, I always looked at the cast iron weights that lived under the sink.

I’ve never made Neenish tarts before, but they’re distinctly ‘Nana’ and I could use some nostalgia right now. All of the components can be whipped up quickly, there’s just a bit of chilling and setting time which actually makes them ideal to make over a couple of days. Go and give your Nana a hug x

 

Pastry

* makes 15 tart shells (see notes)

Ingredients

250g flour
70g caster sugar
150g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature (see notes)
2 egg yolks (I use size 7 eggs)

Method

Place the flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and give it a quick pulse to combine.
Add the butter and egg yolks and whiz until the mixture forms large crumbs.
Tip it out onto a floured surface and shape it into a round disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and have a couple of muffin or tart tins ready to go. You don’t need to grease them as there’s enough butter in the pastry to prevent them sticking.
On a floured bench, roll out the dough to a 5mm thickness and cut circles. I used a 4″ cutter.
Gently place the dough circles into the tin and carefully shape it with your fingertips.
Cut small pieces of baking paper and line each shell, then fill each one with baking beans (or rice etc.)

 


Refrigerate for another 15 minutes.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove the baking beans and paper and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown.
Cool completely. Unfilled tart shells will keep in an airtight container for 5 days.

Filling

Ingredients 

140g butter, cut into cubes and softened
250g condensed milk
130g icing sugar
3-4 dessertspoons lemon juice

Method

Place the butter, condensed milk and icing sugar into a bowl and beat with a handheld mixer. (You can also use a stand mixer.) Beat until well combined.
Add lemon juice to taste, and beat again. The mixture will be very sweet so you need a decent splash of lemon juice to give it some tang.
Spoon into the tart shells and leave to set at room temperature for at least one hour.

Icing

Ingredients

270g icing sugar, split into 2 equal portions
4-6 teaspoons butter, melted
1 dessertspoon cocoa
boiling water
vanilla extract, optional

Method

I made one batch of icing and icing the tarts, then made the other.
Place the icing sugar into 2 separate bowls and add the cocoa to one.
Add a couple of teaspoons of butter and enough boiling water to mix it to a smooth consistency. I find a butter knife works well for mixing.
You can either spread it on the tart with a knife or pipe it on. I used Wilton tip #3. Piping helps to create a clean line.

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Repeat with the white icing. You can add a tiny splash of vanilla if you prefer.
Leave to set completely.
Filled tarts will keep in an airtight tin at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • I used normal size muffin tins which made these tarts quite big. I’m still shopping around for little tart tins.
  • If your butter is not room temperature, it will not incorporate into the pastry and will be too crumbly to work with.

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