I absolutely love making these. This recipe yields about 30 Hertzoggies but I feel like that’s never enough! These were my fathers favourite dessert and I’m glad that that’s one of the many wonderful things we shared – we had similar taste preferences. Now, the buttery pastry that’s filled with a sweet but tart apricot jam and that then being topped with the coconut-meringue that’s moist on the inside and crispy on the outside, is an irresistible combination.

The cookie is a popular dessert in South Africa where it is often eaten with a cup of English tea. In the Cape Malay community the dessert is often eaten during Eid.[1] It is often baked at home as part of a dessert-baking cottage industry in the country and sold alongside other popular South African desserts such as koeksisters. Its origins are deeply rooted in the Cape Malay community, known for their unique culinary creations that blend Malaysian, Indonesian, and African influences. Today, the Hertzoggie is a cherished part of South Africa’s culinary heritage, enjoyed by people of all backgrounds as a delicious reminder of the country’s diverse cultural tapestry.

The tartlet is named after the early 20th century South African politician, Prime Minister (1924–1939) and Boer War General J. B. M. Hertzog. The “Hertzogkoekies” (also known as Hertzoggies) are thought to have been a favourite of his. Hertzog’s supporters were known to have baked, served and sold them to show their political support.

One story of the origin of the dessert states that it was invented by the Cape-Malay community to demonstrate their support for Hertzog after he promised to give women the vote and equal rights to the coloured community in the 1920s. After fulfilling the first promise to give women the vote in 1930, but not the second, the community began baking the cookies with a brown and pink icing called “twee gevreetjie” (Afrikaans for “hypocrite“), showing their dissatisfaction with him.

The Hertzogkoekie inspired supporters of Hertzog’s political rival and contemporary Jan Smuts to bake a version of their own called “Jan Smuts cookies“. This confection also became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Jan Smuts cookies have a creamed butter and sugar topping instead of the paler meringue topping of the Hertzogkoekie.

The Jan Smuts cookies (also known as Jan Smutsies) and Hertzogkoekies has created some confusion with some mistaking one for the other. I enjoy both, but I do prefer Hertzogkoekies (also known as Hertzoggies) as I like to call them bit only because I’m a big coconut fan. I definitely be making Jan Smuts cookies in the future – I’ll add the recipe link here once I do. I haven’t ever tried the “twee gevreetjie” cookies with a brown and pink icing but here’s a random image I found on the web displaying all three. Left, Hertzogkoekies; middle, Jan Smuts cookies; Thirdly, Twee Gevreetjies.

 

Hertzoggie

The Hertzoggie is a sweet, jam-filled tartlet that's topped with a coconut meringue that moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cape Malay, South African
Keyword: baking, biscuits, coconut
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 30 approx hertzoggies

Equipment

  • 1 12-hole muffin tray
  • 1 cooling rack

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 310 grams all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 grams butter room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 50 ml water
  • 25 grams castor sugar

Filling

  • 450 grams smooth apricot jam

Coconut-Meringue Topping

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 135 grams castor sugar
  • 180 grams desiccated coconut unsweetened

Instructions

Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to 180℃/356℉. Grease one or two, 12-hole muffin tins using butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites and set aside.

Pastry

  • In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt together and give it a rough mix. Add the softened butter and combine it using your finger tips until it resembles grains of sand.
  • Add the water and 25g castor sugar to the egg yolks and give it a quick mix. Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour-butter mixture and using a fork, mix until a dough forms.
  • Lightly dust a clean working surface with flour and roll out the dough. You want it to be about 3-5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the circles. The cookie cutter should be slightly bigger than the muffin hole's size.
  • Evenly press the pastry in each muffin hole, ensuring it's pressed firmly around the edge and the base of the tin - I use the base of the handle on my spatula to secure the pastry in the mold.

Filling

  • Place about 1 tbsp worth of apricot jam in each mold and spread evenly as much as possible. Do not add too much apricot jam as it'll bubble over and removing it once baked will be a nightmare. At the same time, having too little apricot jam in each pastry is just as frustrating.

Coconut-Meringue

  • Gradully sprinkle in 135g castor sugar to the egg whites whilst whisking. Whisk until the meringue is glossy. I prefer whipping it until very soft peaks form but some want it more stiff - this'll depend on your personal preference. Once whipped, add in the desiccated coconut and mix until combined.
  • Add about 1 tbsp of coconut-meringue on top of the jam and spread evenly, covering the jam and sealing the edges as much as possible. This'll also ensure that the jam doesn't bubble over.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the meringue is light brown in color. Once they're done baking, remove them from the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack. Allow the jam to cooldown before devouring.

Video

Notes

  1. Pastry: you can use puff pastry if you don't want to go through the additional effect of making the pastry from scratch. Naturally I'd recommend you make it the traditional way but you're the chef! Some also prefer pacing the freshly made pastry in the fridge for 30minutes prior to rolling it out but this seems like an unnecessary step to me.
  2. Jam: You can use whatever type of jam you fancy, so feel free to switch it up depending on your taste preference.
  3. Eggs: make sure your eggs are fresh and large as you want them to fluff up nicely when making the coconut-meringue and also have enough to for all the hertzoggies.
  4. Storing: You can keep them, in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge. Once baked and cooled, freezing the hertzoggies work brilliantly. 

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