Thursday, 26 March 2009

Easter goodies: Chocolate, Amaretti and Coconut Fridge Biscuits

Fridge biscuits made with butter and crushed biccies were all the rage in the Seventies, when nobody cared how much sugar and fat they ate, and aunties always kept a stash of them in their humming old General Electrics. A cold, nubbly fridge biscuit with a glass of iced milk is a thing of beauty, not least because it requires no baking and is easy enough for a six-year-old to make. [Please note that I use the word 'biscuit' in its British sense: that is, in the US sense, a cookie.]

Unbaked fridge tarts are still popular in South Africa. Made with Marie biscuits, Tennis biscuits, ginger nuts or Boudoir Biscuits, they usually include condensed milk, whipped cream, grated chocolate, tinned fruit, or a combination of all four.

The undisputed queen of fridge tarts is the icky but strangely compelling Peppermint Crisp Tart, about which my fellow South African food blogger Jeanne of Cooksister has written a full treatise. For a selection of eat-until-you-turn-green fridge-tart recipes from around the world, have a look at this newsletter from Funky Munky.

You can use any combination of biscuits and nuts and flavourings for this recipe, provided you stick to the basic quantities (too little crumb material, and you'll end up with a biscuit that's too hard to bite into). You can also add raisins or dried cranberries or apricots, but I personally think fruit should have no part in this tart.

These biccies cry out to be served on a doily (see my note about doilies at the end of this post).

Chocolate, Amaretti and Coconut Fridge Biscuits

175 g butter
150 g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 packet (200 g) of Tennis biscuits (or light, crumbly coconut biscuits)
14 Italian amaretti biscuits
1/2 cup (125 ml) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (125 ml) icing sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans, macadamias or almonds will do)
a few drops of almond extract/essence, or a good glug of Amaretto liqueur

Melt the butter and the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring gently now and then. Or melt it in the microwave (find tips for melting chocolate at Put the amaretti biscuits in a big plastic bag and, using a rolling pin, crush to a coarse powder. Now put the tennis biscuits in the packet and lightly crush them so that you have a mixture of crumbs and small bits. Tip the biscuits into the chocolate and butter mixture and add all the remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine. Press into a buttered 20cm x 20cm square glass or ceramic dish and refrigerate until firm; about two hours. Remove from the fridge and slice into squares (this is easiest done by cutting the whole slab into quarters, then slicing the quarters on a chopping board). Keep in the fridge.

Makes 12 biscuits.

PS Do you like my heart-shaped doilies ( see photo)? I bought a packet of these, and some gold ones, at a Chinese discount shop, knowing that a doily occasion was bound to arise sooner or later. This is exactly the sort of biscuit that requires a doily.

Do you know that doilies are dying out? An article in The Telegraph in 2007 reported that sales of paper doilies have plummeted in recent years:

'Once, no self-respecting cake stand or plate was complete without one.

'But now the traditional paper doily, for decades a symbol of suburban gentility, is on the verge of extinction.Asda reported yesterday that it sold only 400 packs last week, compared with an average of 12,000 a week 15 years ago.

'The terminal decline in demand is down to changing social trends, says the supermarket. Since the 1950s doilies have been regarded as a sign of high class and good manners.But many now view them as outdated and the preserve of snobs - as epitomised by Hyacinth Bucket in the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.'
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1 comment:

Jeanne said...

I have to agree - this recipe was sooooo much part of my childhood landscape! I do still crave it though & will definitely be bookmarking it. As for fridge tarts, I generally don't like them much but OH BOY do I make an exception for Peppermint Crisp tart!!