Very home-made mince tarts (with limoncello).

If you’ve got a spare two hours between now and Christmas (lucky you!)
then you’ve got time to make mince pies completely from scratch.
I’m not kidding.
Mince pies
Limoncello fruit mince recipe adapted from The Red Bistro.
Plus my own shortcrust recipe.
(One quantity of pastry will make a dozen cupcake-tin–sized mince tarts, and the filling will make… about three times that many. Just keep it in a sealed container in the fridge, and bake fresh pastry shells as needed/wanted.)

Gather:
For the fruit mince
500 g apples (about 3 large ones)
150 g mixed nuts*
150 g dates
600 g mixed dried fruit**
275 g dark brown sugar
275 ml apple juice
1 orange (juice and grated zest)
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
6 tbsp limoncello***
12 macadamia halves

For the pastry
The Darling Basics shortcrust pastry recipe

Then:

  1. Core and finely dice the apples. Set aside.
  2. Finely chop the nuts and dates. Set aside.
  3. Weigh out the dried fruit. Finely chop any larger fruits (like peaches). Set aside.
  4. Heat the brown sugar and apple juice in a large saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Add in all the other ingredients except the alcohol and macadamias, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
  6. While that’s happening, make the shortcrust dough, roll it into a ball, wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge.
  7. When all the liquid has soaked into the fruit and the whole lot has turned sticky and delicious… preheat the oven to 200° C so it’s ready for the pastry.
  8. Go back to the saucepan and stir in half the limoncello, then cook/stir for another couple of minutes.
  9. Once that’s all soaked in/cooked off, turn off the stove and stir in the remaining 3 tbsp of limoncello. Leave this to cool – uncovered – on the stove while you attend to the pastry.
    Limoncello fruit mince
  10. Grab a cupcake tin. Remove the shortcrust dough from the fridge.
    You could roll out the pastry now, but I get a perfectly satisfactory (charmingly unfussy) result by just tearing off a lump the size of a brussel sprout, then pressing it out into the cupcake tin – nice and thin, so you can almost see through it. Repeat 11 times.
  11. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the pastry is dry and light golden all over.****
  12. You can fill the pastry shells as soon as they’ve cooled to a comfortable holding-in-bare-hands temperature. Just dollop in spoonfuls of the fruit mince and smooth it down with the back of a spoon, and decorate by carefully pushing half a macadamia into the middle, flat side down (this bit is quite satisfying).

Notes:
*I used a combination of raw pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
**Mostly sultanas, but you can be adventurous and add some dried peaches and berries.
***You could use any festive-flavoured booze (like spiced rum!) but I found that the super-sweet fruit really needed the acidic intensity of (home-made) limoncello.
****You can use pastry weights, or just push down the centre of each tart shell with a shot glass when you remove it from the oven and it’s still hot/malleable.

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