A Neenish tart with a bite taken out of it
|Alternative name(s)||Nienich, nenische|
|Place of origin||Australia|
|Main ingredient(s)||Pastry base, sweet gelatine-set cream, butter cream, or icing sugar|
A neenish tart (or neenish cake) is a tart made with a pastry base and a filling consisting of sweet gelatine-set cream, mock cream, or icing sugar paste, with dried icing on the top of the tart in two colours. The colours used for the icing are usually some combination of brown, white, and pink. They are almost exclusively sized as individual servings, 60–80 mm in diameter. The tart was originally created in Australia, and is mainly found there and in New Zealand. The origin of the name "neenish" is unknown, though a column in the Sydney Morning Herald attributed the name to a Mrs. Ruby Neenish. Alternative names such as nenische (recorded in 1929) and nienich (recorded in 1935) suggest a German origin, although neenish was known before the alternatives, suggesting these names were to give a "continental" flavour to the tart.  The tart has a superficial similarity to the American black and white cookie.
The earliest known reference to neenish tarts was a recipe published in the "Woman's World" section of The Bunbury Herald (based in Bunbury, Western Australia) in June 1913, apparently copied from the writer's "manuscript book". The recipe included an almond-based pastry, and a filling comprising a "very thick custard of eggs and milk thickened with cornflour". The top of the tart consisted of coffee and vanilla icing in equal halves. Another early printed recipe was in Miss Drake's Home Cookery published in 1929, calling for cream filling set with gelatine, and pink and white icing on top. A 1932 recipe in Miranda's Cook Book calls for custard filling and chocolate and white icing.
The lemon-flavoured version of the tart most familiar to New Zealand residents is found in the Edmonds Cookery Book. It includes a filling made from butter, icing sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice in a flour-based pastry base, topped with half standard white icing and half chocolate (cocoa added) icing.
Postscript, via Wickiphile: Gertrude Greenwood, oral advice, 1969, Sydney, Australia, referring to her 1912 letter and recipe reference to an old friend. Nienisch Tarts were Gertrude's favourite as a child in the late 1800s, being made by the household cook to a recipe handed down from an old family friend of her mother, who was of Yeniche, or French/German basket-weaver origin. The tarts were a popular afternoon treat made for her family "at home days" where invitational cards were exchanged for visiting in Sydney society during the late 1880s to the 1920s. During this time frame they became popularly known as Nienisch Tarts. Later, during Australia's involvement in World War 2, they became known as Neinish, or Neenish, Tarts with growing demand for the recipe, becoming available in cake and tea shops in both Sydney and Melbourne. The spelling was changed at this time, due to the prevailing anti-German sentiments (similar to "German Shepherds" becoming known as "Alsatians") and were a popular war time sweet treat, due to rationing.
- "neenish tart n." – Australian Oxford Dictionary. Accessed 23 May 2011.
- Turpin, Andrew (2003). Neenish Tarts – University of Melbourne. Published 12 November 2003. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- Oxford Word of the Month: Neenish Tarts.
- WOMAN'S WORLD – The Bunbury Herald. Published Thursday, 12 June 1913. Retrieved from Trove, 11 August 2012.
- Miranda's Cook Book "Neinich Tart", reproduced by Andrew Turpin.