Traditional South African Hertzoggies: baked jam tarts with a coconut meringue topping.

With 20 jars of freshly made apricot jam in my cupboard and the Christmas holidays upon us, It wasn’t hard to find inspiration to bake some classic Hertzoggies on a lazy Sunday afternoon with my family.

The best way to describe traditional South African Hertzoggies would be to say they are soft and chewy baked jam tarts with a coconut-meringue topping on a light, crisp pastry base.  General Hertzog was SA’s prime minister from 1924-1939, and some say that these little melt-in-the-mouth tartlets were named after him because it was his favourite tea time treat. I don’t really care where they come from, but I know that these have been a favourite in almost every household where I grew up. Seeing that I am in holiday baking mode, I definitely count them as one of my ultimate tea time treats, and they are super easy to make.

When I was about 11 years old, we used to bake Hertzoggies at my friend Riette du Plessis’s house. Her mother trusted her enough to let her bake without supervision, and we loved to join in the excitement of real baking with no grown-ups around. Riette’s version contained boiled condensed milk (better known these days as the store-bought Nestlé Caramel Treat) as a filling instead of apricot jam – an absolute winner for kids and grown-ups alike. These days I choose to make them the old-fashioned way, using my home-made apricot jam. Use whatever jam is your favourite.

For the pastry: (makes 24 Hertzoggies)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) castor sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1 ml salt
  • 125 g cold butter, diced
  • 3 egg yolks, extra-large
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cold water
  1. Sift dry ingredients together.
  2. In a food processor, add sifted dry ingredients to butter and pulse untill it resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and water and process untill a ball forms. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Turn dough out on a floured surface, and roll out thinly. With a round pastry cutter, cut rounds and place in greased muffin molds (I use a regular muffin tin), forming shallow tartlet bases.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

For the filling and topping:

  • 24 teaspoons (125 ml or half a cup) apricot jam (or the jam of your choice)
  • 3 egg whites, extra-large
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sugar
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  1. Spoon 1 teaspoon of apricot jam into the bottom of each pastry case.
  2. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk egg whites untill soft peaks form. Continue whisking while adding sugar gradually, whisking untill the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  3. Fold in coconut, then spoon of pipe on top of jam-filled pastry bases.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes untill golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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  1. […] a huge fan of traditional South African dishes, I have written about koeksisters, malva pudding, hertzoggies and peppermint crisp tart. But surely the queen of all traditional SA desserts is the milk tart […]

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