There is a popular dessert in French restaurants and cafés called a mystère, a kind of an inverted Baked Alaska, with meringue on the inside and ice cream on the outside. It's not much of a mystery, though, as the photo always clearly shows what you are getting. (It's usually on offer at the kind of places that have photos of their desserts.) My dessert, however, is a true mystery. Firstly, the photo, as usual, conveys very little idea of what on earth it is. And secondly, the Critic and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to come up with an appropriate name for the dessert before he finally said, "I give up. Why don't you ask your readers to come up with a name?"
First I'll tell you what it isn't. It's not a tart (no crust). It's not a cake (too dense). It's not a tart (the Critic kept stubbornly coming back to that idea, so I thought I'd repeat it). It's not a fruit bar (too wet). It's not a flapjack (not enough structural integrity). It's a dense, chewy, crunchy, sweet and satisfying...thing. With mincemeat. It's a mystery to me. (But I'll be making it again, oh yes, because it was absolutely heavenly.)
Mystery Dessert (serves 6)
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
500 g mincemeat
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 9" square pan, or, even better, six ramekins. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt and then stir in the oil, honey and milk. Spread half this batter in the pan(s). Spread the mincemeat over the batter and top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until browned on the top and no longer wobbly. Serve warm with a drizzle of thick cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
And the first person to come up with a satisfying name for the dessert (the Critic will judge) will receive a mystery prize from me. So give me your brilliant ideas!