When it’s sweltering hot outside and I have to make anything using butter, I immediately get anxious. As a food stylist, my team often shoots Christmas in the summer months for magazines and companies that work ahead. That means we roast turkeys and make cakes, tarts, and gingerbread in July. When I take butter out of the fridge to soften, it pretty much goes straight from cold to melted, greasy mess at the blink of an eye.
That’s why anything that I can cook outside, or make without turning on the oven, is a win. Enter New Zealand Lolly Cake, the perfect summer sweet treat.
I first tried it when I visited my cousin in Rotorua, New Zealand, at Eighty Eight Cafe in Mount Maunganui. I didn’t know what it was, but it caught my eye as soon as I walked by the dessert case, its bright, poppy colors engulfed in what looked like a slice of cake covered in coconut flakes. I asked the waiter what lolly cake was and he mentioned smashed biscuits and something about childhood memories, so I ordered a slice.
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When my slice arrived, besides the eye-catching appearance, I noticed it had a similar but stiffer texture than cookie dough and was delightfully sweet, with candy marshmallows studded throughout. I could see how both kids and adults enjoy a slice. My cousin’s husband Scott, a true Kiwi, told me that lolly cake is the New Zealand equivalent of banana bread at a bake sale.
Lolly cake combines malt cookie biscuit crumbs; butter; sweetened condensed milk; and “Eskimo lollies”—which area bit like marshmallows, but much stiffer on the outside and chewier on the inside. Eskimo lollies are hard to find outside of New Zealand, and the closest I’ve found where I live (in Canada) are strawberry and banana marshmallow candies, often found in bulk bins. In this version, I’ve subbed in multi-colored marshmallows and digestive biscuits, since malt biscuits aren’t always easy to find, either.
Since lolly cakes are so sweet, try making this mixture into two smaller logs for smaller portions. It keeps well in the fridge for weeks.