Monday, December 21, 2009
I have a confession. I don’t like fruit mince pies, or at least I didn’t, until I tried one still warm from the oven. To me they were another of the too-heavy too-stuffy Christmas desserts, like the traditional boozy fruitcake, which I lightened up around this time last year. But my Mum absolutely loves them, and has been blatantly hinting that I should make them for the last two Christmases at least. This year, I thought I should finally indulge her. And guess what! Fruit mince pies are delicious!
I based mine on a recipe from this month’s Gourmet Traveller magazine that included chocolate and cinnamon in the fruit mince. I tried to use ingredients I had on hand, and substituted the raisins for dried dates and figs, which gave it a really great flavour. I used port instead of muscat and doubled the amount of chocolate. It was absolutely delicious, I could barely keep a spoon out of that bowl. Next time I’ll try adding dried plums and cherries, and maybe cranberries too for a more festive, fruity mixture.
The pastry is more like a biscuit dough, with a good cinnamon hit. What I found though, was that I didn’t have enough pastry to use all the fruit mince, and had to make another batch. I ended up with a yield of more like 60+ tarts, instead of the 24 stated in the recipe. Which was quite okay, I had plenty to bring along to the Blogger’s Christmas Picnic last weekend, organised by the lovely Suze and Helen. A lovely afternoon in Hyde Park with old friends and new, doing what we do best – eating.
They also make lovely gifts, or a great addition to your Christmas dinner table, and as an added bonus, they can be made a few days in advance to avoid the crazy Christmas rush. With a dusting of icing sugar, or unadorned, I am converted.
Fruit Mince Tarts
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Makes about 60 small tarts
• 270g dark brown sugar
• 300g sultanas
• 200g currants
• 50g dried dates, roughly chopped
• 50g dried figs, roughly chopped
• 100ml port or muscat
• 100g unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 100g glaced mixed peel
• 2 Granny Smith apples, finely grated
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon mixed spice
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
• 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
• 20g Demerara sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for scattering
• 180g unsalted butter, softened
• 200g pure icing sugar, sifted
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 4 eggs
• 500g plain flour
1. Combine all ingredients except chocolate and Demerara sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Spoon into sterilised jars and refrigerate for at least 1 day or up to 2 weeks, inverting jar occasionally.
2. For cinnamon pastry, beat butter, sugar and cinnamon in an electric mixer until light and creamy (4-5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Beat in flour and a pinch of salt. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until just smooth, then divide pastry in half, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 3 hours to rest.
3. Roll out each pastry half on a lightly floured board to 3mm thick, cut out circles depending on the size of your cupcake tray, place on a tray and refrigerate until required.
4. Re-roll any remaining scraps to 3mm thick and then cut out more rounds and decorative shapes with small biscuit cutters and add shapes to tray. Line greased cupcake trays with pastry rounds and refrigerate until required.
5. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Add chocolate to fruit mince mixture and stir to combine. Spoon fruit mince into each pastry-lined pan, top with a pastry shape, brush lightly with water and scatter with Demerara sugar mixture.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until pastry is golden and crisp. Cool completely in tins, then remove. Fruit mince tarts will keep for up to 1 week if stored in an airtight container.