As Christmas draws closer (less than 4 weeks to go……) I seem to be getting busier and busier, especially trying to juggle my daughter’s diary. I can’t believe how many Christmas commitments one child can have…… everything from music concerts and drama productions, to present shopping, fairs, parties and pantomime viewing. Trying to fit in her social life around work, domestic life and my own need to prepare for Christmas is all getting a bit stressful this year.
The final straw this week was putting my back out when baking a cake…… Not exactly a strenuous task, but I think my body was saying ‘slow down’ in a very physical way. Even the cake was a disaster and ended up in the bin!
I was going to write a blog post that day, but needless to say I was in a foul mood and quite a lot of pain, so the thought of sitting at a computer and having to think creatively went right to the bottom of my priority list. I dosed myself up on pain killers and by mid-afternoon felt completely whammed.
Today I feel a bit better. I have been to the osteopath and have had some acupuncture, but my energy levels still feel low and my motivation to do much other than rest in front of the TV is limited. If you can bear with me, I wanted to share this recipe with plenty of time for Christmas planning as it is one of those perfectly delicious ways to use Christmas mincemeat without resorting to the predictable mince pies.
Usually I make crumble tarts at Christmas….. I love the texture of the crisp pastry against the tippled, fruity mincemeat all topped with sweet crunchy crumble……. But this year, I have discovered the most amazing alternative in the form of a mincemeat frangipane tart.
Ok…… it is still mince pie of a sort, but with a wonderful extra Christmassy twist. Although you can use shop-bought mincemeat (make sure you go for the best and fruitiest you can find or afford), I made mine with a delicious (and very alcoholic) home made Extra Fruity Mincemeat with Pistachio & Calvados that I concocted a few weeks back. The flavours and colours in this particular mincemeat are totally amazing…. deep, rich and full of the expectations and aromas of Christmas. Best of all (in my mind anyway), there is no suet and a definite weighting away from anything to do with mixed peel or currants.
My frangipane tart has the mincemeat encased in an additionally seasonal crisp orange pastry and topped with a wonderfully almondy frangipane sponge, both of which compliment the mincemeat to perfection. This tart shouts Santa, Christmas crooners, brightly lit pine trees, colourful presents, entertaining the octogenarian relatives and of course…… a full and happy belly.
The citrus hint in the shortcrust case marries beautifully with the sweet yet tangy alcohol-laced mincemeat. The soft, nutty sponge sits in complimentary harmony with the density of the fruit and snap of the pastry.
Smother with custard or cream or eat warm with a contrasting scoop of vanilla ice cream for a decadent, festive pud. Alternatively, slice into perfect portions or make into small individual tarts to accompany the party spread.
The photos are a bit of a disappointment. The light and weather at this time of the year are such a struggle to work with that they really don’t do this bake justice. Still…… hopefully you get enough of a feel……..
Seriously, if you want mince pies this Christmas, but are tired of the usual plain pastry offerings, give this delightful little tart a go……. Why be predictable when you can offer something this good?
(If you would prefer a more traditional mince pie, check out my Christmas Mince Pies with Cinnamon Crumble Topping).
40g ground almonds
110g unsalted butter – room temperature
110g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs – room temperature
110g ground almonds
45g plain gluten free flour mix (I used blend A from this post)
Pastry – Method – by hand
- Weigh and mix the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and stir together.
- Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the almonds, sugar and the orange zest.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with the orange juice and pour into the dry ingredients.
- Stir all the ingredients together using a table knife until they begin to clump together.
- 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.
- Use the dough as from number 5 below…………
by food processor
- Weigh the flours, almonds, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and orange zest into the food processor bowl and briefly pulse to mix together and remove any lumps.
- Add the butter and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with the orange juice and then pour into the food processor with the crumb mixture.
- Turn the food processor on and mix until the ingredients form a smooth dough. This will not require any further kneading.
- Roll the pastry out straight away (do not chill in the fridge), using corn or rice flour on the work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking.
- With the support of the rolling pin, carefully lay rolled pieces of pastry over your chosen tart tin(s), and ease into the base with your fingers, gently moulding to the sides of the tin. Trim the edges with a sharp knife.
- If there are any holes or cracks in the rolled pastry cases, use the trimmed remains to repair, – roll and trim the remaining scraps to size and using cold water on your finger tip, dampen both the area around the hole/crack and the downside of the ‘patch’ and gently press together, smoothing the edges with a finger dipped in water to seal.
- Place the prepared pastry bases in the fridge for half an hour to chill prior to baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- ‘Scrunch’ and then flatten small pieces of baking paper ready to line the inside of each tart case and then base fill each with a few baking beans.
- When the oven has reached temperature, blind bake the pastry with the baking beans for 10 minutes. Remove the beans, turn the oven down to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes until pale golden brown. Keep an eye to ensure the case doesn’t over-brown.
- When the pastry is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Spoon a good layer of mincemeat into the pie case and spread evenly.
- To make the Frangipane : Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and almond extract until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended.
- Separately mix together the ground almonds and flour and then gradually add to the wet mixture, beating in with a wooden or silicone spoon / spatula until thoroughly mixed.
- Spoon the frangipane mixture into the cooked tart bases on top of the mincemeat and spread evenly.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (dependent on the size of the pie) until the frangipane is set and golden in colour.
- Serve warm or cold as it is or with cream or ice cream.