Holiday Recipe: Mince Tartelettes
I moved to Australia the week of my 11th birthday and went to high school in London. During those years, I fell in love with spiced fruit desserts. Fruitcake often gets a bad rap in this country, but in Australia and England, it is beloved and the traditional wedding cake! I love steamed plum pudding, too - traditionally served flaming with brandy and a sprig of holly (don't eat the holly, it's only a decoration).
In England, my family rented a house with twelve-foot holly hedges around it, which were planted one hundred years ago by the original owner John Innes. He was a friend of the Arts & Crafts movement leader William Morris and supposedly invented compost. Australia was more of an adjustment since it is summer in December and our thermometer broke at 120°F. The first holiday, we got a canoe on Christmas morning and took off for a pond. Yet there I discovered one of my favorite new treats: fruity mince pies with flaky dough. You can make them larger if you want, but I like them mini because they fit in your hand and you can eat them while enjoying a steaming cup of milky tea.
- 2 sticks unsalted cold butter
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- ½ cup cold milk
- Cut the cold butter into 1” large pieces and place in food processor with the flours, confectioners’ sugar, and salt.
- Pulse quickly; do not let the pieces get too small.
- Stop the food processor, add the zest and cold milk when the butter is the size of a cranberry.
- Mix only until the dough forms.
- Pick up a handful of the dough and smear it on the countertop in a sliding, upward motion. Set aside.
- Repeat until all dough is used up.
- Gently pat the dough flat in between pieces of parchment paper.
- Refrigerate one hour prior to rolling.
- Roll 1/8” thin and cut into (32) 3” disks.
Note: Traditional mince contained beef suet, but this easy version is vegetarian.
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1 cup prunes
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon candied ginger
- 1 tablespoon candied orange confit
- 2 cups dried apple slices
- Working with one fruit at a time, pulse the fruit in a food processor until diced small, about ¼”.
- Place in a wide saucepan and repeat until all types of fruit are cut.
- 4 cinnamon sticks 6 cloves 4 peppercorns peel of 1 lemon peel of 1 orange
- Wrap in cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni.
- Place in a saucepan with fruit.
- 1/2 vanilla bean 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 cup orange juice 2 cups apple cider ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt 2 tablespoons brandy Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the sugar.
- Add to the saucepan and cook over low-medium heat 45 minutes, until juices are absorbed into fruit. Cool, then remove bouquet garni and vanilla bean.
Assembly and Baking
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water Lay the cold dough disks on a piece of parchment, brush with ½ with egg wash. Place 1 tablespoon of cool minced fruits in the center, top with the second piece of dough. Pinch around edges to crimp with slightly floured fingers, and crimp edges with a fork. Place on parchment lined sheet pan. Brush tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Pierce tops to make a decorative design. Freeze 15 minutes to set the shape. Bake in a preheated 375ºF oven until golden, about 20 minutes.