Every now and again, I think about South Africa and all its wonders, including the food. The South African cuisine is truly a feast of flavours thanks to the melting pot of cultures. Growing up in South Africa, Peppermint Crisp Tart was my favourite dessert.
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Peppermint Crisp Tart is just what you need for the summer, to finish off a nice dinner on the terrace. The taste is simultaneously sweet and refreshing. Although it contains a fair amount of fatty double cream, the peppermint freshens up the taste, and leaves your palate with a light feeling. In a way, the Peppermint Crisp Tart is more a trifle than an actual tart. Even though different versions of this dessert do exist, this version is really excellent in terms of taste, and I’m sure you’ll love it too.
Believe it or not, but when I walked into my local South African shop the other day, half of the stock was missing! First, I thought it was a coincidence or that some customer had a very long shopping list. However, this wasn’t the case. For those of you who import stuff from South Africa to the UK, listen up! There is a new EU regulation that prohibits all South African products containing dairy from entering the UK. What does this mean? No more biscuits, chocolates etc. I couldn’t get the ingredients that I needed. Wait, it doesn’t end there. Think about the large-scale impact of this new EU law. The EU regulation only allows milk only from a specific list of countries. You can read more about it on the European Commission’s main website. What a nightmare!
Suddenly I had no Peppermint Crisp to use for the recipe and I had to get very creative as to how to recreate this traditional favourite using British ingredients. While no chocolate even closely resembles Peppermint Crisp, there are dark mint chocolate and coconut biscuits available. With a little help of some peppermint essence I think I pulled it off. The upside to this exercise was that I’ve now proven that this recipe could be recreated without needing to source the specific South African ingredients!
South African versus British cuisine
South African cuisine, draws its flavours from a number of sources, not least the colonial influence. Modern South African cuisine has its roots in different cooking styles as Dutch, British, French, even Malaysian and tribal African. The meals are rustic, generous and packed with flavour. Don’t forget the huge South African wine industry, from which we can fortunately buy from here in the UK. During the past 20 years, South African wine has really become a success on the world stage as well as a multi million pound export. As for the food, the traditional dishes are of course based on local produce, which leads to very interesting combinations between the rather normal ingredients and the more exotic ones. British cuisine is traditionally based on meat and potatoes in some form and is quite different from the gorgeous seafood that most South Africans can indulge in.
Fancy going to South Africa?
Does South Africa intrigue you? If you want to visit my fantastic home country, you should keep on reading. Or if you are currently living in South Africa and want to visit London, there are heaps of tips and tricks for your journey to find here. It helps you find the best flights, and provides convenient information on exchange rates, temperatures, how much to pay for a meal in London and much more. It’s great if you have been living abroad for some time and have lost some of the local London knowhow.
For best results, use a coconut-based biscuit. In South Africa Tennis biscuits are used. In UK, the alternative is called Nice. Be careful not to crush up the biscuits too much. If the crumb you end up with is too fine, it will give you a somewhat sandy texture. What you should go for is a more coarse crumb of crushed biscuits that will give a lovely crunch for the cream.
Making your caramel
You should definitely make your own caramel for this dessert. Even though you can buy quite all right caramel sauces in the shops, it is so easy to make yourself, that you shouldn’t skip. Simply melt sugar slowly on a pan, at relatively low heat, until it turns golden brown. The trick is to stop at the right moment. Meaning, it has to brown long enough to make the caramel taste powerful and bitter, but to stop before it gets burned. To be completely honest, if you haven’t done this before, it might require a practise run or two, before you become a real expert on making caramel. If all else fails, buy a tin of caramel!
Mint essence is very powerful in its flavour so be careful not to overdo it. If you add too much, then the peppermint crisp tart will really taste only of peppermint. You want a subtle minty freshness but not the full blast of tooth paste! You can easily buy a good quality mint essence, in most well- stocked supermarkets and it will keep for a long time even after opening. Although, you will like the peppermint crisp tart so much, that the essence won’t last after all?
If you really don’t like the taste of mint, you can replace the mint chocolate with a normal dark chocolate. You can also try using dark chocolate with orange essence or orange chocolate. However, if think that it would be a pity, not to have the minty freshness, to cut through the rich flavours of the cream and the caramel. I would recommend you going for a good quality dark mint chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa to get the best result.
I used fresh mint and chocolate shavings to top the peppermint crisp tart. Don’t oversize the mint though. Smaller mint leaves are much more elegant look than big ones. You can also dust it with a little bit of cocoa powder, in the same way that you would do with a tiramisu. Now in season, add a strawberry cut in quarters on the top. Strawberry and mint work very well together, and complements the other elements of the dish nicely. Enjoy!
Peppermint Crisp Tart
- 600ml (1pt) double cream
- 375g (1 tin) caramel
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) peppermint essence
- 200g (7oz) Tennis/Nice biscuits, crumbled
- 120g (4oz) Peppermint Crisp or mint chocolate, grated or processed
- Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
- Gently stir in the caramel and peppermint essence.
- You can either use a large container or small, single serving ramekins.
- The first layer should be the biscuits, then the caramel cream and lastly the chocolate.
- Repeat the layers as many times as you like as long as you end with the chocolate layer on top.
- Chill in the fridge for 2 hours before serving.
Cuisine South African
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 38.4 g
Saturated Fat 21.4 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 115 mg
Sodium 191 mg
Total Carbohydrates 55.9 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 47 g
Protein 6.5 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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A special thanks to Kelly Reeve for assisting with the recipe shoot.