I’m a huge fan of “Top Chef” – the US TV show that pits proper chefs (rather than Master Chef’s home cooks) against each other. And has other proper chefs evaluate their efforts. I coach them from the sofa, counselling the ones that falter under pressure, reprimanding anyone that cheats or behaves in a ‘just not cricket’ way.
This week Tom Colicchio, great chef and the program’s head judge, got all dewy eyed remembering a dish his mom used to make for ‘her cocktail parties’. He described it to a table full of New Orlean’s finest: “She would take coloured bread, pink or blue, green even, slice through the length of the loaf in thin layers, spread it with cream cheese and then roll it tightly. Then she’d cut it into rounds and serve it with Martinis”. He laughed and shook his head gently, but you could tell the memory was a sweet one.
Sofamother had some standards she would roll out for ‘dos’. Chicken alla King, Creamed Mushroom Vol au Vente, Beef Stroganoff, Avocado Ritz, Beef Olives. We used to hang around in the kitchen waiting for the dishes to come back through from the crowd and polish off any leftovers – from the diner’s plates if necessary – we loved the food and we weren’t proud. Stroganoff the next day was the best – with the peas and rice all mixed in.
Desserts were usually prepped the day before, refrigerated and often covered in cream. Never liked overt cream so I would have to scrape it off and feed it to our dog Honey. One dessert in particular was a crowd favourite and made frequent appearances on the dessert buffet along with the Chocolate Eclairs, Sticky Date Pudding and Milk Tart. Glennie’s Peppermint Fridge Tart.
Delicious on the night – a mix of caramel, cream (I dealt), biscuits laced with coconut, and chocolate. Even better the next day. Especially if it was Sunday and we could have it for breakfast.
It was sofasister’s birthday recently and she asked our mother to help her prepare treats for the office staff. Mom was talking with her and I saw her smile: “Sure my lovey – no problem to make a fridge tart.” I knew which one she meant immediately: sofabrother is on the Banting diet – which eschews all the fun stuff: sugar, carbs, chocolate, so Glennie created a mini version for me. And I’m sharing it with you.
Chocolate Peppermint Fridge Tart
375 grams/14 oz caramelised condensed milk (a tin) or a tin of dulche de leche if you can get it
2 packets tennis biscuits, square
4 peppermint crisps (grated) – or any peppermint crisp chocolate …. even better if it is dark!
500 ml/17oz whipped cream
1. Line dish with layer of biscuits
2. Whip cream until it is just starting to thicken
3. Add caramel and mix
4. Add peppermint crisp and mix
5. Place half of mixture on biscuit layer
6. Layer more biscuits
7. Cover with other half of mixture
8. Sprinkle with tennis biscuit crumbs (or with extra chocolate, or with both)
9. Cover with cling film and place in fridge overnight
As with all of the world’s good things: this is delicious for breakfast, paired with a hot cuppa joe.