Neenish Tarts are a small pastry tart, layers of jam and mock cream filling and topped with two-tone icing. One of the most wonderful traditional Australian desserts found at bakeries everywhere.
I have been wanting to make Neenish Tarts for like for-ev-ahhhh! I mean these things are sweet and decadent and totally Australian. Yes! Sounds perfect for me. I mean, I’m Aussie and I love anything sweet.
So what is a Neenish Tart?
A neenish tart is an incredibly sweet and small round tart filled with jam, mock cream and topped with a two tone icing. The base is a crisp, buttery pastry and just deep enough to hold a little filling. Don’t be fooled by their size – one neenish tart, whilst delicious, is often enough due to their supreme sweetness.
Where to Neenish Tarts come from?
While their history is shrouded in mystery, Neenish Tarts have truly become an Australian icon. The earliest dated reference to them was in an Australian newspaper advertisement in 1895 and I like the romance behind the thought of a home baker inventing these in their kitchen way back when.
How to make Neenish Tarts
Pastry base – I use my standard buttery shortcrust pastry recipe for these. They turn out golden and crispy and perfect for that amazing neenish tart filling. Just use a simple round cookie cutter to cut the bases and push them into a greased and floured regular 12 hole muffin tin.
The jam! – The jam is …. normally raspberry, however, if you’re very lucky just like me to have a mum who just made a batch of sweet and lovely strawberry jam, you should definitely use that. And I did. Thanks mum!
The mock cream filling – This is an interesting one. Mock cream is a little like buttercream but it uses granulated sugar dissolved in milk with a little gelatine to thicken it and set it. Sounds unusual right but it’s amazing. I’m not sure why I’ve never topped cupcakes with this stuff. This mock cream filling is silky smooth, super buttery in flavour but also sweet.
Neenish Tarts have a tendency to be very sweet so I make my mock cream a little less sweet so the one bite doesn’t send you into a sugar coma.
That two-tone icing – This is an absolute must. Neenish tarts are just not neenish tarts without the two-tone icing. The two colours always include dark chocolate icing and either white or pink icing on the other side. I’m not sure which came first but both colours are just as common as each other. I just spread this on with a small offset spatula.
All summed up Neenish Tarts are sweet and decadent but they’re also quite small so you can afford to have a couple …. at least, right???
Have you decided on your Australia day party dessert yet? Neenish Tarts, anyone?
More great Aussie desserts
- Tim Tam Chocolate Custard Tart
- Lamington Cupcakes
- Tim Tam Brownies
- Milo Fantale Marshmallow Cereal Treats
- My Golden Gaytime Slice
Traditional Neenish Tarts
For the pastry
- 1 cup (130g) plain (AP) flour
- 80 g unsalted butter, cubed and cold
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (notes)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 ½ tablespoons cold water
- ½ cup strawberry jam
For the Mock Cream
For the icing
- 1 cup icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar
- 3 teaspoons milk
- 2 teaspoons dutch cocoa (natural is also fine)
- Pink food colouring (optional)
To make the pastry:
- Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until it looks like wet sand. Add the egg yolk and pulse until mixed through. Finally add the ice water ½ tablespoon at a time and pulse between each until the dough just starts clumping together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface and knead just until smooth (not for too long). Press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / 180C fan forced. Grease and lightly flour a 12 hole muffin tin (notes)
- Roll the dough out to about 2mm thick and use a large round cookie cutter (approx. 8.5-9cm), to cut rounds of pastry. Gently drop them down into each hole of the muffin tin, making sure they’re level. The pastry should come about 2cm up the side of the holes. Return to fridge for 15 minutes.
- Prick the base of each pastry case with a fork and bake for around 10-12 minutes until starting to turn golden. Then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled.
- Spread about 1.5 teaspoons of jam over the base of each tart case.
To make the mock cream
- Tip the boiling water into a small dish and sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Mix with a fork, then allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar and milk to a small saucepan and heat over very low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Give the gelatine another stir, then pour it into the hot milk and stir until completely dissolved.
- Let the milk mixture cool to room temperature before continuing
- Beat the butter and vanilla until light and creamy. Slowly pour in the milk mixture while constantly beating.
- Spread the mock cream over the tarts and use a spatula to make the top level.
For the icing
- Mix the sifted icing sugar and the milk together until you have a smooth spreadable consistency (see notes).
- Transfer half to a separate bowl and add the cocoa, mix well.
- In the other half add just a small amount of pink food colouring (optional) and mix.
- Use a small spatula to spread the pink icing over half of each tart then allow them to set a little at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.
- Repeat with the chocolate icing.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
- I like to grease and flour my tin just to be on the safe side, so that the cooked pastry cases turn out easily.
- You don’t want the icing too runny, so it drips down the sides of the tarts. A great way to test the consistency is to give it a mix around then let it sit and it should take about 7-8 seconds to totally smooth out again.
TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE
- A regular 12 hole muffin tin
- I use a small offset spatula to spread the icing over
- A round cookie cutter to cut the bases
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Post updated with just some slight informational changes March 6th, 2019
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