My husband loves fruit mince tarts. When we were first married I always used to buy them for him from the Queen St Deli. Hand-made by a little old lady at Christmas time.
Then one day I found this recipe by Matthew Evans. Courtesy of his Any Fool Can Cook column in the local paper. Decrying commercially bought fruit mince as unsalvageable, his recipe uses boiled lemon peel in place of the more traditional suet and a generous lug of extra virgin olive oil to finish. Its a clever, quick cheat.
Come to think of it I have probably been using this recipe for over a decade. Its a gem. Definitely fuss free. Make up the fruit mince and use within the day. Or store in glass jars in the fridge. I like to mix up a big batch of pastry and freeze it ready rolled between sheets of baking paper. Whenever we need a mince tart fix, or unexpected visitors drop by, I take the pastry out of the freezer, the fruit mince out of the fridge, assemble and bake. Or even easier. Stir the fruit mince through a good vanilla ice-cream for an instant dessert.
Modern Fruit Mince
Adapted from a recipe by Matthew Evans
Makes 2 cups or 500 g fruit mince
1 lemon, scrubbed
1 apple, peeled and cored
1/2 cup (100 g) currants
1/2 cup (100 g) sultanas
1/2 cup (100 g) firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons brandy
3/4 cup (100 g) walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons mixed spice
a generous lug of extra virgin olive oil
SQUEEZE the lemon and reserve the juice.
PLACE the lemon peel in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until soft enough to puree, about 45 – 60 minutes, changing water twice. Drain well and puree in blender/food processor.
GRATE the apple coarsely into a bowl then add the strained lemon juice.
TOSS the currants, sultanas and sugar in the brandy then warm gently in a low oven to plump up the fruit.
COMBINE the apple and dried fruit mixtures together in a large bowl.
ADD the nuts and mixed spice. Stir and allow to sit overnight, if possible in a fridge.
STIR through a generous lug of extra virgin olive oil just before spooning into the pastry cases, or glass jars if storing.
Modern Fruit Mince Tarts
Makes about 12
160 g butter, softened
1 cup (125 g) icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (250 g) plain flour
250 grams good quality fruit mince (1/2 recipe provided)
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water
Whipped cream flavoured with whiskey, to serve
To make the pastry
BLEND butter with icing sugar and vanilla essence in a food processor.
PULSE in plain flour until crumbly then add 2 eggs. Pulse until combined.
TIP out paste and lightly knead just until it forms a dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To assemble the tarts
ROLL the pastry in two batches between sheets of baking paper, until 3 – 5 mm thick.
STAMP out 12 rounds to line the bases of a 12 hole rounded patty tin and 12 stars to form the lids.
PLACE the bases into the greased tins and press gently into place. Top with a small spoonful of fruit mince, press the lids on top and brush with egg yolk.
BAKE towards the bottom of a 180 C oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and coloured slightly at the edges and the bottom.
COOL and serve with whiskey scented whipped cream.