Fruit Mince Tarts

These fruit mince tarts are one of my favourite things to bake at Christmas time. I love the combination of the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry and spicy fruit filling, and they look so cute too! The fruit mince needs some time to mature so prepare that in late October, early November if you can. Otherwise prepare the fruit mince at least a week ahead to allow the ingredients and flavours time to mingle. The fruit mince tarts freeze well, either before or after baking, so prepare some ahead of time so they are always on hand for when friends pop in. The pastry recipe will make 12-15 tarts, however the fruit mince recipe is enough filling for at least 45 tarts, so keep any left over fruit mince in the fridge for next year.

Fruit Mince
250g prunes, pitted & chopped
250g dried apricots, chopped
250g sultanas
250g currants
250g brown sugar
1 cup black tea
2 apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 lemon, zest and juice
125g melted butter
1/2 cup brandy
100g blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 tsp each of ground cloves & nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Pastry
140g butter, softened slightly
125g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
220g plain flour
2 egg yolks

To garnish
1 egg, lightly beaten
flaked almonds
demerara sugar
icing sugar for dusting

Method:
For fruit mince:

  1. Place fruit, sugar and tea in a large bowl and mix to combine. Cover and set aside overnight.
  2. Next day, add remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Pack into sterilised jars and store in a dark cupboard or in the fridge to mature for at least a week, the longer the better. I have kept some fruit mince for 2 years and it still tastes amazing.

For the pastry:

  1. In a food processor, blend the butter with the sugar & vanilla until light & creamy.
  2. Pulse in the flour until mixture is crumbly, then pulse in egg yolks until just combined.
  3. Turn dough out onto bench and bring together into a smooth ball.
  4. Wrap in cling film, beeswax wrap or place in a container and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to rest.

To assemble the tarts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. You will need a 12 hole rounded bottom pan for this recipe. Lightly grease the holes with some softened butter and some strips of baking paper, 1 cm wide and 12 cm long. These will act as slings to lift the tarts out of the pan once they are cooked.
  2. Divide the pastry into 2 pieces, 1/3 and 2/3.  Take the 2/3 piece of pastry and roll it out on a lightly floured bench, lifting it up and giving it a 1/4 turn after every 6 passes with the rolling pin, dusting the bench with more flour if needed, until about 3mm thick. This will ensure your pastry does not stick to the bench and remains workable. Cut out 12 rounds using a cutter to line the moulds you are using. Roll out the 1/3 piece of pastry, in the same manner you did earlier. Cut out a matching number of stars or circles, or other shape to sit atop the fruit mince.
  3. Carefully lift the pastry rounds from the bench with an offset palette knife and transfer to the prepare pan. Add a heaped teaspoon spoonful of fruit mince and top with your chosen pastry shape. Brush the top with a little egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds or demerara sugar.
  4. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven and allow tarts to cool in baking pan for 5 minutes before removing from pan and placing on a cooling rack.
  5. To serve, dust with a little icing sugar. Merry Christmas!

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