Hertzoggies (Sweet South African coconut meringue pastry)

Fully baked Hertzoggies

A Hertzoggie is a type of tartlet that consist of a pastry case, apricot jam and a coconut meringue topping.

In October my husband and I went home for a two week holiday. Naturally we ate and ate until we could eat no more! It was during this holiday that my husband declared that it would be really nice to make up a hamper of South African treats for our UK friends as Christmas gifts.

Reluctantly I agreed to this and had every intention of following through on this promise until I started on this baking adventure… The first treat to be baked was Lepelsteeltjies followed by the Hertzoggies.

It was love at first bite. I couldn’t part with them! I secretly took half of the baked tartlets and packed them into an old chocolate tin. They are my secret stash… It is now February and they are still as tasty as the day I baked them (mid-December), although there is only two left.

Why is it called a Hertzoggie

Legend has it that when General J.B.M. Hertzog decided to stand for Prime Minister of South Africa his followers invented this sweet treat to be served during his electoral campaign meetings.

Not wanting to be outdone, his opponent General Jan Smuts’s supporters in turn invented the ‘Jan Smuts koekie’ which was pretty much the same thing as a Hertzoggie apart from the coconut topping was replaced by a more pastry-like filling on top of the jam.

Still to this day, one hundred years on, people still prefer one over the other.

I think I should arrange a cake-off to my UK friends and let them decide which is better…

How to make a Hertzoggie

Step 1: Equipment

The first thing to do is to check your equipment. I one have one 12-hole cupcake tin, so I had to ensure that have enough counter space to keep half of the batch on one side whilst the other half is baking. I also had to ensure that my cookie cutter is the right size and that I have a rolling pin ready.

To decide on the correct cookie cutter size, I taken a cutter and fit it over a hole in my tin. I am looking for a cutter that fits over the hole, but will leave a few millimetres lip around the hole. This way the pastry will fit perfectly without spilling over.

Step 2: Grease

Grease the cupcake tin by either spraying it with a non-stick cooking spray or by smearing butter with a paper towel around the hole and then distributing some flour around (I use a bit of the flour that I am baking with so the excess doesn’t go to waste.

Step 3: Making the pastry

Rub the butter and the flour together until it resembles grains of sand. Add the salt, sugar, baking powder and the egg yolks and combine until a dough comes together. Don’t knead it.

Next I wrap the dough up and place it in the fridge for about half an hour. This allows the flour to absorb some of the liquid and I find that it rolls a bit easier and therefore it is not so sticky.

Step 4: Cutting the pastry

Once the dough comes out of the fridge, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out until it is about 3mm thick (about ⅛ inch). Cut the circles with the cookie cutter and fit the circles into the cupcake tin’s holes. I use a bit of excess dough to press the pastry into the holes as it avoids tearing the very delicate dough.

Step 5: Jam filling

Take the apricot jam and two teaspoons. Take a heaped teaspoon and use the second teaspoon to direct the jam into the pastry cases. DO NOT OVERFILL the cases with jam. Not only do you still need to put the meringue topping on, if you overfill the cases with jam they will simply boil over. This will create a massive mess in your oven and will cause terrible burns if you are not careful when you take it out of the oven. It will also cause the tartlets to stick to the pan.

Step 6: Preheat the oven

Now you should go ahead and preheat the oven to 180℃ (356℉).

Step 7: Meringue

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. I like to use a stand mixer as this frees up my hands, but you can use any means available to you. Keep whisking whilst adding the sugar one spoon at a time. Whisk for at least 20 counts in between spoonfuls to ensure that the sugar crystals melt and everything is evenly dispersed. Whisk until the egg whites are glossy and keeps its shape on the whisk.

Fold in the coconut into the meringue, taking care not to deflate the egg whites. I find that if you continuously trace a J in the mixture it will combine nicely.

Step 8: Bake

Take two tablespoons and scoop the mixture on top of the jam. Smooth it over, ensuring the entire pastry case is covered.

If you would like a more decorative tartlet, you can also pipe the topping on top of the jam using a star tip nozzle.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and the meringue is slightly puffed up.

Cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

Place in an airtight container for storage. It freezes brilliantly.


  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 125g butter, softened
  • 280g plain flour
  • 10ml baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 60 ml caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Filling

  • 1 cup smooth apricot jam
  • 3 egg whites
  • 145g caster sugar
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut


  1. Grease two 12-hole cupcake tins.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles grains of sand. Add in the sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add three eggs and use a fork to combine into a dough. Leave to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  4. Roll out to 3mm thick and cut out circles. Fill the cupcake tins by lightly pressing the dough circles into the holes.
  5. Filling

  6. Spoon the jam into the pastry casings.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  8. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually until stiff and glossy.
  9. Fold in the coconut gently.
  10. Spoon over the jam-filled pastry cases and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For more South African recipes, see below:

Lepelsteeltjies (South African savoury snack)

Sweet and salt meets in one bite to give you a taste explosion that will unlock long-forgotten memories.

Click for recipe

Traditional South African Vetkoek

Friday nights are Vetkoek nights. Delectable little rounds of bread dough deep fried until golden on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside… Perfect for a rainy Friday evening where you just want to have comfort food and a shiny face!

Click for recipe

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