Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Cherry Mincemeat Tarts (A Nigella Lawson-Like Recipe)

Living in the opposite side of the world, I really hate the fact that our Christmas is completely different from others... It is never white, snowy, cold and dark. For our Christmas, we never have to wear layers of warm clothing, snuggle in front of wood fires or enjoying the warmth of cuddles.

Instead, we are celebrating our Christmas with sunshine, picnics, parties, outdoor and beaches. Did I say sunshine and beaches for our Christmas? Seriously, I don't think I should complain much. On the brighter side, I do appreciate that we are always having an unique Christmas.

For Christmas this year, I'm baking my traditional mincemeat tarts with an Aussie twist!!! Instead of baking with raisins and fresh cranberries, I have modified a Nigella Lawson's flaky mincemeat tarts recipe to bake my version with cherries and also lots and lots of cherries because cherries are one of the fruits that we enjoy the most for our down-under Christmas...

Christmas cherry mincemeat tarts
Christmas cherry mincemeat tarts
I started by cooking cherry mincemeat in advance.
You can either use fresh cherries or frozen if fresh is available.
I have added these into my mincemeat. Instead of raisin, I have added dried cherries...
... plus these too!
Chill the crumbs in the freezer and this will make the pastry tender and flaky.
Then combine the crumbs into a dough with orange juice. Rest dough for 30 mins in the fridge.
While the dough is resting, get the cutters and pan ready.
Line the patty pan with pastry rounds.
Assemble the tarts and bake...
Can't wait to try one before dusting them with icing sugar...
Yum! Yum! Yum! To illustrate the flakiness of the pastry, I have used the leftover pastry to cut into 4 little reindeer and I have baked them at 200°C fan forced for 12 mins. 

See how flaky they are ...

These are my son's favourite!

Mummy, I need to eat more reindeer!!! said my son with a hungry face.
Sweetie, you sound so ferocious!!! 

Here's the recipe that is mostly adapted from the book, Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson or here

Please note that this is 1/3 of the original recipe to bake seven 6 cm tarts.

For the pastry:
80g all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
20g vegetable shortening, preferably the non-trans fat kind like Crisco
20g cold butter, diced into cubes
juice of 1/3 orange
approximately 120g mincemeat
icing sugar (for dusting)

For the cherry mincemeat:
20ml ruby port or orange juice (I used orange juice)
25g dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
100g cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
20g dried cranberries
40g dried cherries
finely grated zest and juice of 1/3 orange
2 tsp brandy
1/3 tsp vanilla extract or 1/6 tsp vanilla paste
2/3 tbsp honey

Make the mincemeat at least 2 weeks in advance:

In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port or orange juice over a gentle heat. Add the cherries and stir. Add the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, dried cranberries and cherries and the zest and juice of the orange. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 mins, or until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Add the brandy, vanilla extract and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars. When cooled completely, store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

When you are ready to make your mince tarts, get ready your miniature tart tins or patty pan each indent is about 6 cm in diameter, along with a 7 cm fluted, round biscuit cutter and a star cookie cutter.

Using a food processor or a spoon with a mixing bowl, mix dollops of vegetable shortening into the cold butter roughly. Add flour and sprinkle the pinch of salt into the butter mixture. Process or mix slightly until just combined. Chill the buttery crumbs in the freezer for 20 min. This will make the pastry tender and flaky. Mix in the orange juice until the crumbs combine to form a dough. If all your juice is used up and you need more liquid, add some iced water. Wrap dough in cling wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge to rest for 20 mins.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7/425ºF/200°C fan forced.

Roll pastry as thin as you can roll. As this is an easy to handle pastry, you don’t have to roll it too thick and you can patch up any holes with extra pastry if required.

Cut the rolled pastry with the cutters. Place the pastry rounds into the tart tins or patty pan and fill the lined pastry with sufficient amount of mincemeat. Then, place a star pastry on top of the mincemeat.

Bake for 10-15 mins or until the pastry turn golden brown. Allow the pastry to cool slightly for about 10 mins before transferring them onto the wire rack to cool completely at room temperature.

Dust the tarts with icing sugar and serve.

Happy Baking and Merry Christmas

This post is linked to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organised by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and me from Bake for Happy Kids
Please link your post with us if you are also cooking something special for your Christmas celebration for the whole of December 2014.

To use this linky tool, please make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post. (2) Please mention Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 in your post and link back to us, Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

Here are my blogging friends that have joined me cooking / baking for this event. Please visit their blogs for more of their Christmasy food.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cranberry White Chocolate Soft Biscotti

"No no no mi chiamo Leonardo!!!" said my boy with his loud dramatic voice and exclamation.

My boy loves learning Italian language at school. At times, he likes to speak Italian to me and as usual, the confused me will stare at him blankly without knowing single clue in what he is saying. After acclimatizing to a few of his practice, I have begin to learn something...

"No no no mi chiamo biscotti!!!" I said to these cranberry white chocolate soft biscotti and would say the same to those that I have baked in two years before.

Huh? I just said... no no no I'm biscotti in Italian! Geez! Please pardon my lousy Italian language.

Here, I was referring to this another batch of cranberry white chocolate biscotti that I had baked for our bake-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen wings.

Unlike most traditional biscotti like these and these that I have baked previously, these biscotti contains added butter. However, unlike the buttery cranberry white chocolate biscotti that I have baked for current bake-along, these softer kind of biscotti with cranberry are not twice baked. Having said that, I like to emphasize that this doesn't mean that these biscotti are not biscotti or don't taste like biscotti. "No no no mi chiamo biscotti!!!"

As I have mentioned before... Please don't be put off by its "soft" description. Although they are slightly softer than most biscotti, they are equally delicious to eat. Plus, due to the fact that these biscotti are not twice baked, they are super easy and never time consuming to bake... You will see what I mean.

cranberry white chocolate soft biscotti
Cranberry white chocolate soft biscotti 
These biscotti are made of melted butter...
... plus dried cranberry and white chocolate.
All I have to do is to combine the ingredients together.
Rest for 10 mins.
Shape, bake...
... and serve!
"No no no mi chiamo biscotti!!!"

Here's the recipe that is mostly adapted from my previous bake at here.

Make about 18 slices or two 20 cm logs
60g unsalted butter, melted, cooled 
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla paste or extract
110g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberry
2 tbsp white chocolate, finely chopped
icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C, fan forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, egg, milk and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder and sugar into the wet ingredient. Add dried cranberry and chocolate and mix until a soft dough forms. 

Cover with a tea towel and rest for 10 mins. 

Divide dough into two and shape into two 20cm logs. Place on trays. Bake for 25 mins, until golden. Cool on tray for 15 mins. Dust with icing sugar. While still warm, cut into 2cm slices. Serve. 

Happy Baking

Here are our friends that have joined us for this bake-along. Please visit their blogs for more of their biscotti baking.

Please submit your details if you wish to link your post with this bake-along. This linking tool is open from 11 to 22 Dec 2014.

For our next bake-along, we are baking Mille Feuille to be posted on 8 Jan 2015
. Please bake-along with us! All you need to do is to bake your favourite Mille Feuille and blog hop with us for the next 10 days.

To blog hop with us, simply copy and paste this linky HTML code into your blog post where you want the blog hop list to appear. Make sure you are in HTML view/mode when you paste in the code. get the InLinkz code

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This post is also linked to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organised by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and me from Bake for Happy Kids.

This post is also also linked to My Treasured Recipes - Ho! Ho! Ho! It's Christmas time organised by Ms B from Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and Charmaine from MiMi Bakery House.

What after Christmas 2014? 2015 is arriving soon!!! Little Thumbs Up will be back with Anne from My Bare Cupboard being the next hostess of January 2015 and her theme is NOODLES and PASTA! starting on the first Tuesday of January 2015.