Throwback Thursday: Proudly-Mzansi Peppermint Crisp tart
Make this beloved dessert with its Springbok-green minty shards to tuck into while watching the game on Saturday night. The crunchy cracknel inside a bar of Peppermint Crisp chocolate may need to be crushed, but our determination to win does not.
Here’s a deliciously green dessert to make this weekend, to spur on the Bokke. Peppermint Crisp is more than merely a chocolate bar. It’s an institution and a national treasure. And so is the beloved fridge tart made with it. We devour it in the same way and with the same pride that we wear Springbok jerseys when the boys are taking on the world. They should eat a slice of it before going on the field…
Like the Cremora Tart, a Peppermint Crisp tart is a relatively recent invention, dating to the 1960s when a whipped cream substitute called Orley Whip was introduced. A recipe for such a tart was included on the packaging, and it slowly took off to turn into a staple of the South African dessert repertoire.
Peppermint Crisp tart, in fact, contains two household brands: Peppermint Crisp, of course, and Nestlé Caramel Treat, although there are other brands (such as Eagle and Spar). While the “cream” in the original was Orley Whip, many modern versions are made with dairy cream, so the dessert has matured in a sense.
Orley Whip is still on the market, however, so if you’d like to be all purist about it, you can choose to use the original recipe which called for 250 ml Orley Whip, two packets of Tennis biscuits, one 360 g can of caramelised condensed milk, three Peppermint Crisp bars, and perhaps a drop of peppermint essence to enrich the flavour.
In the old days, you would have had to cook a can of condensed milk in rapidly boiling water until it turned into caramel. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and I can vouch for them. As a teenager, I once got this very wrong. I omitted to prick the top of the can, and it exploded all over the kitchen. On the walls, on the ceiling… So these stories are not apocryphal; it happened to me. If you do it yourself, the can must be punctured a few times, and water must reach only partly up the side of the can while it bubbles away and caramelises.
But these days Nestlé sensibly offers their own caramel version of condensed milk, branded as Caramel Treat.
Incidentally, Orley Whip was originally based on a British cream substitute brand and was first sold by Wilson-Rowntree in South Africa from 1966. In the late 1980s it was bought by Nestlé.
But let’s talk about quantities and ratios. And they vary wildly from recipe to recipe. I’ve sifted my way through a host of them before refining my own recipe, so be warned that mine does not skimp on anything.
Many recipes call for one tin of caramel condensed milk. I used two.
On the Peppermint Crisp chocolate bar front, most recipes are far too timid. The original recipe called for a mere three. Some use only two. Come on! I used two for the topping alone. With another five inside. Yes, five. It needs to sing of Peppermint Crisp like the Bokke singing the national anthem, not have a mere whiff of it.
Some recipes call for two packets of Tennis biscuits. But I approached this aspect modestly, using only one packet. However, I chose to use the crushed biscuits, once beaten with melted butter, only on the base of the tart dish, not up the sides as well. This creates a nice thick biscuit crust and allows more room for more filling.
I also used cream cheese and a little gelatine, taking a leaf out of Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s book, though I used less than his recipe calls for. The cream cheese adds a nice “little something” to both the flavour and texture.
And I used real dairy cream, not Orley Whip. I remember well the time I bought this strange new product as a little boy, tasted it, and told my mom that it tasted nothing like real cream and I would never use it. And I haven’t. (I suppose that was the food writer of the future first showing himself. 🙈 😊)
But I do respect those who like it, and many do. Even some of my best friends like Orley Whip. They’re welcome.
(Serves 8 to 10)
1 x 200 g packet Tennis biscuits
125 g butter, melted
2 tsp gelatine powder dissolved in 2 Tbsp cold water until spongy
2 x 360 g cans Nestlé Caramel Treat dairy dessert
230 g cream cheese
250 ml cream, whipped
7 x 49 g bars of Peppermint Crisp
Grease a tart dish with butter. Crush the Tennis biscuits until fine. (I use my hands, but they can be crushed with a rolling pin.) Melt the butter and stir it in. Press it into the base of the dish. Leave in the fridge for half an hour or more to set.
Soak 2 tsp powdered gelatine in 2 Tbsp water until it turns spongy.
Bash five Peppermint Crisp bars (still in their foil wrapping) using a rolling pin on a wooden or plastic board until finely crushed.
In a bowl, beat the caramel and cream cheese with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Stir the crushed Peppermint Crisp into the filling until well combined.
Whisk the cream to soft peak stage and fold in.
Pop the ramekin of gelatine into the microwave for a few seconds to warm it a little, then stir it with a teaspoon.
Stir the gelatine into the mixture.
Pour the mixture into the dish and smooth the top. Crush the remaining two bars of Peppermint Crisp to sprinkle over the top. Chill overnight to set. DM
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.