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Best-ever fruit mince tarts


Start this recipe at least two weeks ahead to macerate the fruit. This recipe makes about 30 tarts.

You'll need

150 gm candied orange 70 gm each ginger in syrup and dried figs 150 gm each currants and sultanas 100 gm brown sugar 50 ml golden rum Finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon ½ tsp each ground nutmeg, ground allspice, ground cinnamon and ground cloves 130 gm fresh suet, cleaned and finely minced 750 gm butter puff pastry For dusting: pure icing sugar   Shortbread 200 gm butter, slightly chilled 80 gm caster sugar 40 gm eggwhite (from about 1½ eggs), chilled 50 gm almond meal 200 gm (1 cups) plain flour 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • 01
  • Finely chop orange, ginger and figs. then combine with currants and sultanas in a bowl.
  • 02
  • Add brown sugar, rum, rinds and juices, ground spices and ½ tsp salt. Mix to combine then cover and refrigerate to macerate (2-4 weeks).
  • 03
  • For shortbread, beat butter in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth (2-3 minutes). Add sugar and beat to combine.
  • 04
  • Gradually add eggwhite, mixing on medium speed until mixture turns white and very fluffy. Combine almond meal and flour in a bowl, then add to butter mixture along with vanilla, and mix on low speed to combine. Turn out dough and press into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (2 hours).
  • 05
  • Halve the dough, roll each piece to 4mm thick between sheets of Go-Between and freeze, separated and covered with Go-Between, until firm (1 hour).
  • 06
  • Remove top layer of Go-Between and cut out heart shapes (or a shape of your choice) to fit tops of tarts (6cm-7cm wide), then freeze on a tray until required. Separate layers with Go-Between if necessary.
  • 07
  • Roll out puff pastry to 2mm thickness then cut out 7cm-diameter rounds to fit a 12-hole mini-muffin tin, then freeze discs on a tray until required. Separate layers with Go-Between if necessary.
  • 08
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Stir suet into fruit mince.
  • 09
  • Remove puff pastry rounds from freezer to soften slightly, then line muffin holes.
  • 10
  • Fill each tart with 1 tbsp fruit mince.
  • 11
  • Top tarts with shortbread hearts, then bake in the lower third of the oven until puff pastry is puffed and golden (25-30 minutes; if shortbread browns to quickly, cover tray with foil), then reduce heat to 170C and bake until pastry is crisp and deep golden (10-15 minutes).
  • 12
  • Remove from oven, set aside to cool on a wire rack, then dust with pure icing sugar and serve.

Pâtissière extraordinaire Lorraine Godsmark of Sydney pâtisserie Lorraine's reveals the secret to her highly sought-after Christmas tarts.

Working as a pastry chef in restaurants like Rockpool didn't require making much in the way of Christmas treats. It wasn't until I opened Six Seven Ate in Sydney's Chippendale with fellow chef George Sinclair that the opportunity arose to develop my skills in the festive department.

We soon discovered a demand for good Christmas items; George made the savoury goods and a dynamite Christmas pud, while I made the Christmas cakes and fruit mince tarts. I wanted to put my own twist on the them and thought a combination of puff and shortcrust pastries would create an interesting texture; I found the usual use of the same pastry for the shell and lid a bit monotone. After lots of research and testing, I settled on this recipe using puff pastry and shortbread. Customers from Six Seven Ate still appear at Lorraine's at Christmas to buy the tarts, so I think it was the right move.

At Yellow, in Potts Point, the tarts became so popular that many customers expressed their regret when I took a two-year break. They said Christmas just wasn't the same without my mince tarts - I was touched. So, here's a recipe that will hopefully bring joy to you, your family and friends.

The best approach is to prepare early, but I make the mince no longer than a month in advance so it still tastes fresh - the acid from the juices won't drop off and it remains zingy, fruity. This is also enough time for the alcohol to settle in and for the flavours of the spices to develop. Use whatever alcohol you prefer; I've opted for golden rum here. I like to use classic dried fruit such as sultanas and raisins; currants are also lovely. The addition of fruit such as dried fig and ginger, however, adds another dimension, so feel free to put your own twist on the filling. I love using my own candied orange because it tastes fresh and delicious, but shop-bought glacé oranges also work well.

Fresh suet is the key to keeping the fruit mince moist. It can be prepared ahead of time, too. Ask your butcher to order it for you, then first soak it in water to release the blood before picking over it to remove the sinew. Drain it and either finely mince it or chop it, and then freeze it in a plastic bag until you need it.

You can also make the pastry weeks in advance; roll and cut out the discs and freeze them between sheets of Go-Between, then defrost them before using. I make my own pastry, but a good butter puff such as Carême is fine. The shortbread can be made three weeks in advance, rolled into sheets and stored in the fridge or freezer separated and covered with Go-Between. An hour before baking the tarts, transfer the shortbread sheets to the freezer to firm up (if they've been in the fridge), then remove the top sheet of plastic and cut out your desired shapes (I like hearts) to top the tarts.

Store the baked tarts in an airtight container in the fridge (because of the butter in the pastries) for up to three weeks. Before serving, refresh them for 10 minutes in an oven at 150C. When cool, dust them with icing sugar and serve. Merry Christmas from Lorraine's Patisserie.


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Dec 2014

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