Cranberry Christmas Mince Tarts

This year I decided to embark on my very first ever batch of Christmas Mince Pies.

I decided to go for a star studded approach by using Nigel Slater’s short crust pastry recipe with Nigella Lawson’s Cranberry Fruit Mince. Family and friends were very impressed with the final result as was I. These are definitely a little on the tart side but definitely moorish.

Nigel Slater’s short crust pastry recipe

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a little cold water
  • 375g good-quality mincemeat
  • icing sugar for dusting

You will also need a 12-hole tartlet tin, each hole measuring 6cm x 2cm deep. It is best to bake the pies in one batch of 12, then a second one of six.

Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until you have what looks like coarse, fresh breadcrumbs. If you do this in the food processor it will take a matter of seconds. Add the egg yolk, then mix briefly with just enough water to bring to a smooth dough. You will probably need just 1 or 2 tablespoons. Bring the dough together into a firm ball, then knead it gently on a floured board for a couple of minutes until it softens. Reserve half of the dough, then roll the remainder out thinly. Set the oven at 200°C/gas mark 6.

Using cookie cutters or the top of an espresso cup, cut out 18 discs of pastry. (There may be a tiny bit left over.) Place 12 discs of the pastry in the tartlet tins, smoothing them up the sides so the edges stand very slightly proud of the tin. Fill each one with a dollop of mincemeat. A level tablespoon is probably all you will get into them, unless you have especially deep tins. Be generous. Roll out the remaining pastry and make a further 18 discs of pastry, reserving 6 of them for the second batch. Slightly dampen each of these round the edge with cold water then lay them over each tart and press firmly to seal the edges.

Cut a small slit in the centre of each pie and bake for 20 minutes till golden. Let them calm down for a few minutes, then slide them out of their tins with a palette knife and dust with icing sugar while still warm.

 

Nigella’s Cranberry Fruit Mince Recipe

Ingredients (note I substituted cointreau for port and lemon for clementines)

  • 75g/2½oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 60ml/2fl oz ruby port
  • 300g/10½oz cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 75g/2½oz currants
  • 75g/2½oz raisins
  • 30g/1oz dried cranberries
  • 1 clementine, zest and juice only
  • 25ml/1fl oz brandy
  • few drops almond extract
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gentle heat.
  2. Add the cranberries and stir.
  3. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, currants, raisins, dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementine.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. (You may need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of a wooden spoon to incorporate them fully.)
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  6. Add the brandy, almond extract, vanilla extract and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste.
  7. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars and, once cool, store in the fridge.
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