neenish tart

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Unknown. The oldest known reference is a September 1895 advertisement in the Sydney Sunday Times[1] for Nenish cakes.

Derivation from a German or Viennese German word has been suggested, and the early spellings nienich (1935) and nenische (1959) appear consistent with a German origin, but the "very English" spelling neenish has been common since even earlier, being in a January 1903 recipe in the Launceston Daily Telegraph, a May 1924 Melbourne Argus article, and a 1929 cookbook by Lucy Drake, suggesting the Germanic spellings may have developed later to give the dish a Continental feel.[2][3]

A popular claim that the tarts were first made by a Ruby Neenish in Grong Grong, New South Wales circa 1913, when she ran low on cocoa preparing for an unexpected shower tea and made do with half-chocolate/half-white icing, was a hoax.[4]


neenish tart (plural neenish tarts)

  1. (Australia) A small tart with a pastry base and gelatine-set cream filling, covered with icing in two colours, half and half.
    • 2008, Elizabeth Smither, The Girl who Proposed: New Short Stories, page 14,
      She had thought of a neenish tart but then wondered if the filling might run.
    • 2010, Philip Marshall, Wainui Days, page 82,
      “See if Mrs Clarke would like a neenish tart.”
    • 2010, Books LLC, Australian Desserts: Pavlova, Anzac Biscuit, Lamington, Frog Cake, Icebox Cake, Neenish Tart, White Christmas.


  1. ^ Trove digitization of the 1895 newspaper advertisement
  2. ^ Australian National University
  3. ^ Trove digitization of the 1903 recipe
  4. ^ “The origins of the neenish tart: A sweet mystery and a little scandal”, in Radio National[1], 2016-07-12, retrieved 2016-07-13

Alternative forms[edit]