I am a huge and heartfelt fan of the digestive biscuit. Bill Bryson once said that the chocolate variety was a British masterpiece, and while I agree that the chocolate digestive is found at the very pinnacle of our achievements as a nation, I still have a soft spot for the plain, unvarnished version. People used to think they aided digestion – hence the name – which I think probably isn’t true. But they are cheap and comforting, and they go with anything: cheese, butter, jam, hot chocolate. I expect they’d go with fish fingers if they tried hard enough. They’re amenable types.

They go with fruit tarts, too. I was initially drawn to Nigella’s Black and White Tart (How to be a Domestic Goddess) because I wanted something fruity after a weekend of very large dinners – if dessert includes one of your five-a-day, it doesn’t count – but once I realised it had a digestive biscuit base, I was sold. No pastry this week, to my delight. My hands were starting to go into spasm from all that rubbing butter into flour.  

Nigella recommends blitzing the digestives in a food processor. Out of sheer laziness, I decided to follow her advice, though I knew quite well that I only have a miniature blender which jams shut when you try blending anything larger than, say, a pea. However, I broke the biscuits into pieces myself first and crushed them from there, which worked well enough. You add melted butter to the biscuit-sand and then smoosh it into the bottom of your pie dish. The middle of the tart is mascarpone cheese, sugar, whisked egg white, yolk and a bit of lemon juice. Mascarpone tastes a bit nothingy on its own, I discovered, but altogether the creamy filling is delicious, and offers to lick the spatula clean afterwards were enthusiastically taken up. Blackcurrants and whitecurrants were supposed to go on top, but I decided to play it safe and got raspberries instead (they were on offer in Tesco). Any old berry would do, of course. Pick your favourite and run with it.

Spatula (pre-licked).

A quick and easy assemblage, then, and nothing that you’d call actual cooking. I am still wary about the uncooked egg lurking in the cream but none of us have yet been stricken with salmonella, and hopefully it will stay that way. The real difficulty came, though, at 6am this morning, when I woke up to the realisation that I’d made the tart in the same dish I needed for lunch. Curse my tiny, crammed cupboards – I can only have one of everything! Thus it was that the Other Half and I found ourselves squinting blearily at the pie dish in pajamas, with a spatula in each hand. The extraction was not really what you’d call an unqualified success, and we ended up bringing the tart to the table in several pieces. Still, presentation’s not everything. I hope.

It's good for you, honest.


The unassuming king of biscuits

Deliciousness: Excellent. The semi-sweet biscuit, the smooth cream and the sharp-tasting berries made a lovely combination. And I confidently expect to dispatch my large slice with ease, thanks to the digestives.  

Complexity: A ludicrously easy recipe. The ingredients were a little on the expensive side: I needed two pots of mascarpone, and berries of any kind are quite pricey. Worth it, though.

Washing-up pile: Twelve items, one of which was the biscuity blender. A bit of a slog.

Casualties: Our concentration spans, after the unexpected very-early-morning spatula session.