When I was growing up, Sunday invariably meant lunch at Aunty Mary and Uncle Carl’s house. You could bet your bottom dollar there’d be some kind of roast, a mountain of vegetables, and always, always, pudding. I remember school holidays spent in Aunty Mary’s kitchen, stirring big pots of melon and ginger jam. She always bought every food magazine on the market, and I would spend hours pouring over them, furiously scribbling down recipes for dishes I dreamt of making, in my hard-cover black notebook. Of all the fine dishes in her repertoire this has to be my favourite, tart gooseberries that burst on your tongue, enveloped in a sweet condensed milk laced custard, on a bed of sugary sand-like crumbs. The original recipe for this dish was always made with tinned gooseberries – however I could not for the life of me find any, so I have adapted it accordingly. I do not know the origin of this recipe, but I suspect it may be one of those dishes that most families have in their repertoire, passed down over the years. You always know it is a much loved dish when it’s written on a piece of paper, stained by the ingredients the recipe contains!
Retro Gooseberry Tart
1 packet Marie Biscuits, finely crushed
100g butter, melted (for the crust)
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
1 tin gooseberries, drained, syrup retained, or 250-300g fresh gooseberries
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons custard powder
100g butter (for the filling)
Grease a pie dish and mix the crushed Marie biscuits with the melted butter and 3tbsp of condensed milk from the tin. Press the crumbs into the pie dish and chill while preparing the filling.
If you are using fresh gooseberries begin by making a sugar syrup. Place 250ml sugar and 250ml water in a small saucepan, bring to the boil without stirring and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the fresh gooseberries and cook until they start to burst but still retain their shape. Remove from the heat. Scoop the gooseberries into a bowl and strain the syrup into a jug, discarding the gooseberry seeds. You should have 500ml of liquid, if you have less, add water until you have the required amount. The same goes if you are using tinned gooseberries.
Whisk the custard powder into the syrup. If using tinned gooseberries, stir in the 3tbsp of sugar, if you are using fresh gooseberries, the syrup should be sweet enough. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and stirring/whisking constantly, bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Stir in the 100g butter. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, before stirring in the remaining condensed milk and gooseberries. Pour the filling into the prepared biscuit crust and refrigerate until set. Play some of your favourite retro tunes on vinyl, and enjoy!