Friday, 29 January 2016


“Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: For that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.” - Ecclesiastes 8:15

My grandmother used to say that some festive foods that were traditionally made only once a year were too good to save for only that one occasion. Consequently, she made those foods many times a year. The only thing she did was that she renamed them so that people would not argue with her on why she made those particular foods at “inappropriate” times. Here is her recipe for mincemeat pies, which she renamed “Festive Tartlets”…

Festive Tartlets
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup ice water
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar for dusting
4 walnuts, roughly crushed
1 tbsp mixed candied peel
2 tbsp chopped glacé cherries
2 tbsp sultanas
1 tbsp chopped dried apricots
2 tbsp dates, chopped
2 tbsp apricot jam
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
A little brandy

Prepare the filling by mixing thoroughly all of the ingredients. Add a little brandy to ensure the filling is not too thick. Lay aside. You may like to prepare this a day or two before you make the tarts so as to allow the flavours to meld. Keep in a covered container in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 200˚C. Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup icing sugar, and cinnamon. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to mix in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the lemon zest. Sprinkle with ice water, and gather dough into a ball. Let the dough rest fro 30 minutes in the fridge.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 cm thick. Cut out approximately 18 (8 cm) diameter circles, and 18 (5 cm) circles, rerolling dough as needed. Line muffin cups or tart tins using the larger pastry circles. Fill each pastry cup with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Top with smaller pastry circles, pinching circles together to seal the edges. Brush the top of each pie with egg and dust with 1/4 cup sugar.
Bake pies in preheated oven until tops are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly on wire racks.

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