Earth Hour, that is.
It all started out so well … my inner hippy was thrilled to receive an invitation to an Earth Hour Picnic in a park on Saturday evening (in times of great stress at the office I have been known to threaten to grab my handbag and drive to Knysna to join the hippy community, living off wild mushrooms and the proceeds of my tarot-readings and sale of my “special tea”).
It wasn’t just my inner hippy that was jumping for joy in a tie-dyed kaftan, but also my not-so-inner food-obsessed side. We were all asked to bring “a plate of eats” (that phrase brings back memories of my mother attending PTA meetings) to share with everyone. Happiness! *kowtows and blows air-kisses at feet of all the lovely people who put up with the madness* (I won’t mention the map-of-the-world sandwich idea again…).
And so they went to the polls and voted for…. Peppermint Crisp Tart! Yum!! A good old South African classic; it’s not everyone’s favourite but I think that has more to do with the fact that it’s not very shmancy and actually, underneath their pretentiousness, everyone loves it. Plus it’s super-easy to make for a crowd either in one big dish or in single-serves like I did (easier to hand out at a picnic in the dark) (also, easier to dress up as a little plant).
I happily spent my afternoon fiddling and faffing in the kitchen, dismissing the grumbly noises outside as noisy aircraft overhead… when Mother Nature decided to laugh at our picnic. And let rip some thunderclaps and lots of rain and misery. The earth hour picnic was sadly cancelled, but you know what – we shouldn’t wait for just that one hour in the year to make an effort! We could have earth hour picnics ALL THE TIME! ! Plus I got to don my awesome argyle wellies and deliver dessert to all my friends who live close by – I was pretty darn popular yesterday evening :-).
So if you missed Earth Hour (which happened Saturday, for those of you who were too busy burning fossil fuels and releasing CFC’s into the atmosphere to notice), whip up a batch of these “potplants”, switch off the lights, and declare your own earth hour – yay! (plus it’s practically a vegetable. It has a green thing out the top).
For 13 little “potplants” you will need:
2 x 360g cans of Caramel Treat (that is another Nestle brand name – it’s the brown gloopy stuff that happens when sweetened condensed milk is cooked)
2 x 290g cans of Dessert Cream (also Nestle… I don’t know what it’s called if someone else makes it, sorry. Regular cream should work).
1 x 200g packet of Tennis biscuits (did you see they’ve brought out a cinnamon version? Someone who still eats carbs needs to try it out and let me know how it is)
2 x 49g Peppermint Crisp chocolates
Optional: A box of chocolate biscuits – I used mint Romany Creams. You don’t need a whole box in this recipe but that does not mean there will be any wasted, if you get my drift *brushes crumbs from chin*.
Optional: 13 x 150ml containers (I wanted the little pleated paper ones… but could only find plastic)
Optional: 13 x disposable spoons (I wanted the woody-looking bamboo ones… but again, only plastic was available. At least it was recyclable).
Optional: Little printed signs saying “happy earth hour” or “let’s pretend it’s earth hour” and some sticky-tape
Optional: Fresh mint sprigs, or rosemary if you don’t want to do much last-minute preparation
Righty oh. Flex your self-restraint muscles…. then open the cans of caramel and dessert cream without immediately sticking a spoon in to “sample” from them. Stop it! (The caramel one tends to squirt, so do it over the sink AWAY from you).
Empty the caramel into a bowl – it will look revolting, like an opaque jelly with possibly a bit of oily nastiness going on. Give it a beating with a spoon until it’s a bit smoother, then add the cream. Continue stirring for a bit (to reduce splashing later) then give it a once-over with an electric beater until it’s smooth and evenly blended.
Open the pack of Tennis biscuits and eat the broken one on top (there is ALWAYS a broken one on top). Break some biscuits into quarters, and place a quarter into each little dish (if you are making one big giant dessert – just lay them out in the bottom of a dish). Put a spoonful of the caramel mixture on top of each biscuit, and continue layering until you have 3 layers of each, ending with the caramel. Use broken bits of biscuit to try to make a decent layer each time.
Coarsely grate the peppermint chocolates and sprinkle lavishly over the top. You could sprinkle it between the layers too, if you didn’t forget (like me). If you are not planning to make little “potplants”, stick it in the fridge for a few hours (at the very least 2) for the biscuit to soften and for gorgeousness to happen.
If you are intending to make potplants – smash the chocolate biscuits in a mortar and pestle to make coarse “soil” (I saw “chocolate rocks” in a shop yesterday – just an FYI that such a thing exists). Before leaving the house for the picnic, construct a little “signpost” by neatly cutting out the little signboards and attaching them near the top of the spoon with some tape. Stick the spoon into the dessert so that the bowl-shaped part is hidden. Sprinkle the biscuit “soil” to form an even layer. Just before serving, poke a mint sprig into the middle… I was surprised at how quickly they wilt once stuck into the dessert, so if you do not want to faff around at the last minute I suggest using fresh rosemary instead.
Aren’t they adorable??
Happy belated Earth Hour everybody!