‘The Tart Tin’ review & nana’s top hats cookie recipe

Teaching your children or grandchildren how to cook could influence their future! As well as fond memories of times spent together, and the enjoyment of sharing the food you have made, you may have planted the idea in their minds that one day they could be a chef.

Matt Cross thanks his Mum and his Grandmas who were all passionate bakers for kickstarting his baking career when he was just five years old.

By the time he was at primary school he had already progressed to making fudge and cakes to sell at his parents’ workplaces for pocket money,

Matt qualified as a chef in New Zealand. An OE to Sydney followed where he honed his cooking skills in all sorts of places from fine dining restaurants to trendy wee cafes. But Dunedin drew him back. He absolutely loves it there as he can indulge his twin passions baking and surfing.

He filled The Tart Tin with the treats you can buy from his wee retro caravan at the Dunedin Farmer’s market where he sells his handmade and delicious sweet treats. All made using traditional techniques but given a twist with his own creative flair,

His recipes are wicked (in the nicest possible way!). They do include lots of sugar so would be very much special occasion treats in our house. The Baby berry pies, the salted caramel meringue cake and the ruby pear tart look absolutely irresistible!

Some of the recipes would be perfect for enticing your school-age grandchildren into the kitchen during the holidays as the recipes are clearly written and include helpful hints. Teenagers would relish a chance to try their hand at the strawberry macarons and the Nutella doughnuts. And Nana’s Top Hats would be a fun starting point for younger ones.

Nana’s Top Hats

When I was a kid, every winter when we went skiing in Wanaka we would stay at my grandparents’ house. There was always a mad rush with my brother and sister to see what treats Nana had made for our arrival. Under the SodaStream machine, under the bench, lived countless retro tins filled with all manner of sugary treats, but only the best-behaved child was allowed to open them, so we were forced to sneak them in night raids! Whenever I make these, I think of Nana and how her little cookies inspired my career in the kitchen.

Makes 20

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 10 mins


  • 350g softened butter
  • 1½ cups icing sugar
  • 2¼ cups plain flour
  • 1 cup custard powder
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 250g dark chocolate block, broken into squares


Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a kitchen mixer and whisk until pale and fluffy.

Mix in sifted flour, custard powder and cornflour.

Roll dough out to 2–3mm on a lightly floured surface and cut into small circles.

Place a square of chocolate on each cookie and top with some of the offcut dough, using your fingers to create a seal over the chocolate.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Share immediately with someone you love, or keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. These also freeze well.

Reproduced from The Tart Tin by Matt Cross, published by Potton & Burton, available nationwide RRP $39.99


Reviews by Lyn Potter

Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook

Read more by Lyn here.