Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grandma's Tan Fingers

(from Emma Levy)

170g butter
285g flour
290g sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar.
Add vanilla, then flour.
Roub 2/3 of the mixture in buttered sponge roll tin and cool in the fridge.

55g butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup
½ tin condensed milk
chopped walnuts

Heat in saucepan and stir until blended.
Cool and spread over shortcake base.
Crumble remaining mixture with the walnuts.
Put in oven at 350F.
Bake until a milky tan colour for about 35 mins.


Rita Levy was known throughout Lower Hutt.  Well it wasn’t a big place at the time, and she was in the “rag trade”, running a women’s clothing store on High St for many years.  A working grandmother!  To my brother and sister and I, she was Grandma, and she was a heap of fun.  

Many afternoons we would sit in her lounge room chatting and being fed food we’d NEVER have been allowed at home.  One of ten children from south London, she held on fast and tight to her English accent and the proper English ways.  She disapproved of much that went on in modern families and modern times, and she loved a good gossip.  She wasn’t much of a cook, and the few things she made, were made repeatedly.  No matter – we loved them!  Her Tan Fingers are the only biscuit or cake I even remember her baking.  I could gobble up many Tan Fingers in one afternoon.  

Grandma died in 1987, one month after her only child, my father, passed away.  Life without him was just too hard for her.  For years we talked about the Tan Fingers, and I often looked for them in old-style cafes, hoping to find them nestled in between lamingtons and vanilla slices.  They never were.  Then one day, early in 2011, I opened one of her old cookbooks that I have opened many times before, and saw a slip of paper between two leaves of the book.  Taking it out, I screeched as I realized that I was holding the beloved Tan Finger recipe.  I dashed to the computer and converted all the ounces to grams, and emailed it to my siblings.  

All three of us made it – it was both joyous, and incredibly sickening to gobble them down all these years later - they are VERY SWEET!!  My 43 year old palate is not my 11 year old palate!  But they are worth a try – they are a yummy, old fashioned biscuit, and the kids will love them!  Thanks Rita.


  1. beautiful beautiful story - Ruth M.

  2. Oh my I bet they are sweet - I love those caramel style slices.... I think I must make!

  3. I bet they are sweet! I love those caramel type slices - will have to make.