Christmas fruit tarts
( SERVES 12 )
Photo by Tamara West
I love the sweet, spicy flavour of fruit mince pies but I’m not too keen on all the flour, butter and sugar. Rather than miss out on this annual treat, I decided to make a version I could feel good about. This pastry uses cashews as a source of fat and honey for sweetening, with oatmeal to hold it all together. It actually tastes great raw and you could chill it in the fridge and use it that way, but baking it adds a bit of crunch. To roll the pasty thin you must chill it first and use baking paper to stop it sticking to the rolling pin.
For a richer flavour it’s worth going to the trouble of using whole spices, grinding them up with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder as you need them. As a diversion while you’re doing this, you may like to chew on a whole clove.
I remember hearing this was an old remedy for toothache and had been meaning to give it a go for ages. Wow, I’m glad I did because the intense flavour and tingly, numbing effect was a pretty memorable experience! No need to be afraid of cloves though, the trick is to enjoy them in small doses rather than putting too much in. Feel free to try halving the spice amounts shown first to see if you want a bit more. You may like to mix and match with the dried fruit, you could use dried cherries, cranberries or apricots. Just taste as you go so you can get the balance right for you. Try to make the fruit mince a few days before you want to use it, the flavour softens and develops in the fridge.
|1 cup||Cashew nuts, raw|
|1¼ cups||Oatmeal, fine|
|¼ cup||Creamed honey, clover|
|2 Tbsp||Lemon juice|
- Heat the oven to 160C fan bake. Place the cashews, oatmeal, lemon zest and salt in a food processor and run until the nuts are finely ground.
- Warm the honey and lemon juice gently in a small pot until the honey is dissolved, then add to the running food processor until the mixture clumps up into a ball. Remove and chill in freezer for 15 mins to firm up.
- Cut circles of baking paper to fit the bottoms of a texas muffin pan. Roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper (sprinkled with a little oatmeal to stop it sticking) until it is about 4mm thick then use a pastry cutter, glass or cup to cut circles of pastry and fit them in so they wrap up the sides of the muffin pan a little. Use a smaller round cutter to make circles that you can then cut into neat star shapes for the top. Place stars on a baking tray and place this and the muffin pan in the oven to bake for 6-9 minutes until the edges of the pastry are lightly browned, then remove from oven, allowing them to cool and firm up before removing from their pans.
- To make the fruit mince, place all ingredients in a food processor and run for a minute or so until the mixture is nicely broken up and just starting to clump together.
- Place a decent spoonful of fruit mince in each cooked tart case then top with a pastry star.