As an anthropologist, I appreciate the importance of gift giving as a tool of affirming relationships, showing appreciation, and just being nice. As an anti-capitalist vegan, I'm not so good with the buying of cheap stuff to give to people. As a cheapo, I'm not so willing to buy expensive stuff! The easy solution is handmade gifts. Last year I made crocheted Christmas ball decoration thingies for my friends at work. This year, I decided to go the food route.
I've never actually had a fruit mince tart, but for some reason this year I decided I had to make them. But then I decided, why not use tropical fruit? I tropicalised a traditional fruit cake a few years ago, when I made tropical fruit cake for our wedding. So the idea implanted itself firmly in my brain, and I had to see it through.
I made the fruit mince on the weekend. It's best to let it sit for a few days if you can, so the fruit soaks up as much of the boozy flavour as possible. We made a pretty giant batch, because we had some fruit that needed using, and also because I wanted to make not only tarts, but also fruit mince ice cream. The amount in the recipe below could probably make 4 dozen tarts, so consider cutting it in half if you don't want that many!
Tropical Fruit Mince
4 small granny smith apples, cored and grated
1 small-ish green-ish mango, peeled, seeded and diced
4 c. dried fruit - I used 1 c. mango, 1 c. papaya, 1/2 c. crystallised ginger, 1/2 c. mixed peel, and 1 c. dried mixed fruit. The dried fruit should be chopped up roughly
1/2 c. macadamia nuts, chopped coarsely (other nuts would work, too, but less tropical...)
3 Tbsp. mixed spice
1 c. rum
200 grams brown sugar
3 Tbsp. nuttelex (vegan butter)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 vanilla bean, split in half and with the seeds scraped
In a big bowl, combine the fruit, nuts, and spice. Mix them all up well. In a saucepan, combine rum, brown sugar, vegan butter, lemon juice and zest, and the vanilla bean and its seeds. Bring this up to a boil, let it boil for 2 or 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Pour the hot liquid over the fruit, mix it up, and let it stand. When it cools a bit, transfer to a tupperware and store it in the fridge until you're ready to proceed.
I made the rest of the tarts this afternoon. I used bought pastry. I know some people will scoff, but in my opinion life is just too short to screw around trying to make pastry from scratch in the tropics, and with no food processor. Five sheets of short crust pastry was the perfect amount for 2 dozen tarts.
Use a big drinking glass or a small bowl to cut muffin-tin sized circles from your pastry.
Brush the circles with oil.
Then put the pastry, oil side down, into a muffin cup. Fill it up with a scoop of fruit mince.
Cut some pretty shapes from the pastry scraps, and put the pastry-shapes on top of the fruit mince.
Brush them with a little bit of soy milk, and then bake them at 180 (350F) for 20 minutes. When they're done, they need to cool in the pan until they're fully cool. So plan ahead, so you don't have to do what I did and run across the road to ask your neighbour if you can pretty please borrow some muffin tins. Luckily Claire is a very generous neighbour :-D
I baked the extra scraps of pastry on a baking tray, so that I can somehow incorporate them into fruit mince ice cream later on this month. When they're just out of the oven, run a butter knife around the outside of each tart to loosen them up.
When the tarts have cooled completely take them out of the muffin tins.
Wrap them up to give as gifts, or put in the freezer for later, or eat them straightaway.
Now that I have eaten a fruit mince tart, I can say that they were worth making, especially tropical style. Hopefully my work friends like them, you know, for the sake of maintaining our reciprocal relationships and all that.