The Christmas season simply cannot pass without a mince pie or two. I have to say that in the past, I have not been a great fan of mincemeat, but this year I managed to find an absolutely gorgeous mincemeat with cherries, almonds and brandy. Lush!
Because my daughter doesn’t go a bundle on mincemeat, however lovely it is, I usually make a few fruit pies to sit alongside, so that she doesn’t feel left out. I fill the fruit pies with a delicious home-made fruit compote, made from whatever fruit happens to be lying around. This year, I struck double lucky, because when I was sorting through the freezer to make some room for Christmas, I came across a large tub of apple and strawberry compote lurking deep within…… Perfect for fruit tarts! Yippee….. one less job to do!
Rather than make an all-pastry tart, my take on the traditional treat is to make individual crumble-tarts……………. Crisp gluten free almond pastry cases, filled with mincemeat or fruit and topped with a gluten free cinnamon-spiced crumble.
These little pies are just bursting with flavour from the moist tangy fruit or mincemeat filling. The sweet, crunchy, crumbly top offsets the fruit perfectly and tastes so Christmassy with its cinnamon edge.
I added an extra twist this year, by stirring a couple of teaspoons of freeze-dried cherry powder into the pastry mix to make a cherry-almond pastry. It probably could have taken on more, but even with this amount, there is still a detectable hint of sour cherry in the background of each bite. If you don’t have any powdered cherry, it’s not a problem. The pastry is quite delicious without it.
To make them even more festive, I have topped each pie with a little fondant icing snowflake made with a wonderful little cutter I found a couple of years ago ……………. Aaaahhhhh……….. SO cute! And of course, it goes without saying…………… a bit of edible sparkle. Gold for mince and red for fruit!
Mince or Fruit Crumble Tarts
Cherry-Almond Pastry (makes approx 20 tart cases)
50g corn flour
40g ground almonds
2 teaspoons ground freeze-dried cherries (optional)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch fine sea salt
60g caster sugar
110g cold butter – cubed
1 large egg
1 to 1½ tablespoons cold water
Method – by hand
- Weigh the flours, cherry powder, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and mix, making sure any lumps are broken down.
- Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar and almonds.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of the water and pour into the dry ingredients.
- Stir all the ingredients together using a table knife until they begin to clump together. If you think the mixture is too dry add a little more water, a dribble at a time until you feel the consistency is right.
- Dust your hands with corn flour and bring the dough together, pressing into a ball.
- Knead very briefly, to make sure the ingredients are fully amalgamated.
- Roll the dough to about 3mm thickness, cut into rounds using a cookie cutter and use to line the holes of a muffin tin. Place the trays in the fridge to chill whilst you prepare your fruit and crumble topping.
Putting it all together
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Take the lined pastry cases from the fridge and fill three-quarters with your chosen filling.
- Top with a good spoonful of crumble mixture and a sprinkling of brown sugar to add extra crunch.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden-brown.