On the Plate: Feeling like a yo-yo as the ho-ho season looms

December 5, 2019 BY


Well, I don’t know about you, but with the wild swings in our weather, massive winds, soaring temperatures that plummet the next (or same) day, has me thinking about yo-yos.

The up-down vagaries of the past several weeks have left me feeling like I’m dangling on a string being pulled every which way.

As Christmas is now firmly on the not-too-distant horizon here’s some snippets of, I hope, useful information for you. You may be considering making your own paper crackers to share and snap at the Christmas table, complete with silly hats, even sillier jokes, and maybe a quiz.

Here’s a few little-known facts about yo-yos that could become some of the quiz questions. Perhaps you could even supply yo-yos – the toys, that is – as the after-dinner entertainment? Ensure that beginners stand very wide of the crowd. We don’t want a favourite aunt or uncle going home with a shiny bruise to the eye socket.

Evidence shows that the yo-yo was a toy enjoyed by Greek children as early as 440BC – imagine that! The toys were made from wood, metal or terracotta and we know this due to the painting on a Grecian vase from that period that clearly shows a boy playing with a yo-yo.

Skip forward quickly to the 21st Century, when a Filipino immigrant in the US opened a factory in 1928 making yo-yos amongst other handmade toys. Pedro Flores’ first toy factory soon expanded to an additional two others, producing thousands of small toys daily. His design improved on the original by using one continuous piece of string, cleverly looped so that the yo-yo could “sleep” in a resting yet still spinning poise at the end of the string, thus facilitating clever tricks. Ah yes, I recall never really mastering the art of “walking the dog” at schoolyard at play time. Such a failure! And do you recall the craze of collecting “branded” yo-yos? I’m sure they’re extremely collectable now.

During the 1970s and 1980s, quite a number of technological innovations were introduced in regard to yo yos. Ball bearings, changeable axles, use of newer materials of plastic, aluminium and so on. But, in regard to the edible yo-yos, you just can’t beat the age-old recipes handed down through generations of grandmas and mothers – as who doesn’t love a home baked yo yo with a cuppa for afternoon tea?

My research indicates that Yo-Yo biscuits were a uniquely South Australian product first produced by John and Magdalena Menz in their bakery on Wakefield Street, Adelaide back in 1867. The biscuit making aspect of this family firm was sold to Arnott’s in 1962 and whereas once the honey-flavoured Menz Yo-Yo biscuit was included in the Arnott Family Assortment pack, it was removed in 1997 to considerable outrage.

The yo-yo recipe here is for a savoury version based on a recipe by Valli Little and for my money these are a great idea for Christmas gift giving. Making batches of these, some parmesan shortbreads, or some homemade jam would be treasured gifts at Christmas time.

(Recipe via Valli Little)

125g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and well chilled
½ cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup grated parmesan
150gm (1 cup) plain flour
2 tspn wattleseeds
Filling: 225gm cream cheese
110gm very finely grated tasty cheese
1 tspn mustard powder

Place flour and seeds into bowl of food processor, add butter, cheeses and process only until a ball is formed. Remove dough, divide in half and roll each into a log. Wrap in baking paper or cling film and refrigerate 30 mins. Preheat oven to 180C. Cut dough into 1/2cm slices, place on baking trays lined with baking paper and gently press the tines of a fork into each ‘biscuit’. Bake 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Combine the cream cheese, very finely grated tasty and mustard powder into a soft ‘mash’ – sandwich the two halves of the yo yo together with this mixture. Store in an airtight container up to three to four days in the fridge – serve at room temperature with festive drinks!