Every year I make my own fruit mince so that I can create my own delicious fruit mince pies over the Christmas Break. The fruit mince is very simple to make yourself and so much lovelier and healthier than store bought versions from the supermarket. The secret is all in the apple you choose. Make sure to go for sweet varieties such as golden delicious, pink lady of fuji as they will create the perfect balance of flavour.
As a pastry chef you need to be patient when you embark on cooking in the kitchen. You need to keep a watchful eye on your fruit mince and give it a good stir every now and again, making sure the mixture does not stick to the base of your pot. If your apple juice starts to evaporate quickly, just add a little more juice or even some water to keep your fruit plump and moist. After about 1 hour you will see your fruit mince creation come to life and the aroma of spices will fill the house. Now at this stage you can also add a generous splash of calvados – which is a delicious French style apple brandy that will add a touch of festive cheer, but that’s totally your call. Stay tune toward the end of this week where I give you my personal recipe for delicious fruit mince pies.
What’s good about it:
The best thing about this fruit mince is that there is no added suet, making it a whole lot healthier than traditional versions that can clog arteries and leave that awful greasy taste in the mouth. The sweetness comes naturally from fresh and sun-ripened fruit so you don’t need to add any extra sugar. Spices can stimulate gastric mobility and digestion after your Christmas feast.
500 g (17 1/2 oz) apples, finely diced with the skin (golden delicious, pink lady) are naturally sweet and delicious
250 g (8 3/4 oz) raisins
100 g (3 1/2 oz) cranberries or sun-dried cherries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 orange (you will need the zest from ½ orange)
500 ml (2 cups / 17 1/2 fl oz) fresh apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
Combine the apples, raisins and cranberries into a pot.
Add the apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla and the zest from 1 orange.
Cover the pot and simmer over a gentle heat for 30 minutes, making sure to stir every now and then. Make sure not to boil too fast, just a slow gentle simmer.
Add more apple juice if need to keep the mixture plump and moist then simmer for another 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Now at this stage your fruit mince will be ready to enjoy – but for those who want to add that festive cheer, you can stir through a generous splash of calvados ( apple brandy).
Your fruit mince is now ready and it’s delicious made into pies, tarts or folded into Christmas Baked muffins.
Notes: The fruit mince will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
the recipe makes enough for 40 fruit mince pies:
Nutrition info per 20 g serve (1 tablespoon)
Protein: 0.2 g
Total fat: 0.1 g
Carbs: 7.7 g
Sugars: 7.5 g
Fibre: 0.7 g
OK, here they are ! my purely delicious fruit mince pie recipe. I’ve tried to cover most bases such as gluten, wheat and dairy free which is why I’ve given you a few pastry options. My favourite pastry to make these lovely pies is the oatmeal shortcrust. It has a lovely crunch and wholesome sense of purity which I love. They last for days (up to 1 week) and they are perfect to complement your nutritious Christmas feast. The oats are low GI and provide good fibre for digestive health, whilst the almond pumps up the amino acid and vitamin E profile that will help nourish your immune system.
My Almond crust is also delicious and great for those who are on gluten free or paleo style eating plans. Almonds are a good source of protein - which in a nutshell can help sustain lean muscle + help you recover after exercise.
The third shortcrust option is my delicious and buttery wholemeal spelt shortcrust that’s easy to work with and a little more forgiving then the gluten free and oat version. Traditionally the ratio of pâte sablée (French style sweet pastry) is 1 part flour to 3/4 of butter – this gives you a lovely short and crisp pastry that tastes absolutely delicious and holds it’s shape extremely well. I believe you need to use the right fat for the fight application so when making a mouthwatering shortcrust, a good quality butter wins hands down. Care and patience must be taken with delicate pastry work – it’s important to rest your dough for at least 1 hour in the fridge before rolling out and lining your tart shells. For a vegan or dairy free option to the butter you can also use cold pressed coconut oil.
FRUIT MINCE PIES:
Oatmeal short crust
1 1/2 cups (175 g / 6 oz) rolled oats
1/2 cup (40 g / 1 1/2 oz) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (60 g / 2 1/4 oz) almond meal / ground almonds
2 1/2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil or olive oil or cold pressed coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey , organic maple syrup or rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon water to mix if needed to form a dough
200 g (7 oz) fruit mince pie filling, enough for 10 pies
Combine oats, coconut and almond meal into a food processor or large bowl.
Add the oil, honey and vanilla.
Turn on the food processor and mix well for about 30 seconds or until combined. Alternatively, mix by hand until you form a soft dough.
Add the water and process again. The addition of water will help the cookie mixture stick together.
Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper and cut into circles, large enough to to cover the base and sides of your tart shells.
Make sure to prepare 10 tart shells before lining with a light coat of oil or butter, followed by a dusting of coconut or ground almonds to prevent sticking.
Fill lined tart shells with 1 tbsp of the fruit mince.
Roll out rest of the pastry and cut out in the shape of stars.
Arrange stars over the top of the mince pies.
Bake in a low 150 C (300 F) oven for 30 minutes or until golden.
Cool completely before eating and enjoy.
Makes 10 delicious fruit mince pies
Store in an airtight container for 7 days.
Nutrition for 1 fruit mince pie with pastry
Protein: 3.6 g
Total fat: 11.5 g
Saturated: 3.4 g
Carbs: 23.9 g
By Teresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef