It wasn't until my daughter was working at Brumbies (an Australian bakery) that my family developed a healthy obsession for these delicious sweet and fruity little pies. It was her job to close up each night and at the end of the day any items that hadn't been sold had to be thrown out. Needless to say we saved a lot of money on bread at the time. When Christmas came along they had their famous fruit mince pies for sale. Well it didn't take long for my gang to develop a craving for them, I think I can remember we may have started to hide them so they wouldn't be eaten all at once. Some evenings she would bring home anywhere from 10-20 pies. Lucky we had Granny and Grandad staying with us that year to help with consumption. I must say there got a bit addicted to them as well. You know how the oldies seem to always have a raging sweet tooth!! ;-) Don't tell them I said that.
Fruit Mince Pies have quite a history and have been around for a long time. Origanally filled with more meat than fruit they're definitely a bit different today they they where in 1413 when King Henry VIII liked his Christmas pie to be a main-dish pie filled with mincemeat. Here's a little exert of their history I got from Whatscookingamerica.net. that I found quite interesting.
Mincemeat developed as a way of preserving meat without salting or smoking some 500 years ago in England, where mince pies are still considered an essential accompaniment to holiday dinners just like the traditional plum pudding. This pie is a remnant of a medieval tradition of spiced meat dishes, usually minced mutton, that have survived because of its association with Christmas. This pies have also been known as Christmas Pies. Mince pie as part of the Christmas table had long been an English custom.
Today, we are accustomed to eating mince pie as a dessert, but actually "minced" pie and its follow-up "mincemeat pie" began as a main course dish with more meat than fruit (a mixture of meat, dried fruits, and spices). As fruits and spices became more plentiful in the 17th century, the spiciness of the pies increased accordingly.
11th Century - The Christmas pie came about at the time when the Crusaders were returning from the Holy Land. They brought home a variety of oriental spices. It was important to add three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) for the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi. In honor of the birth of the Savior, the mince pie was originally made in an oblong casings (coffin or cradle shaped), with a place for the Christ Child to be placed on top. The baby was removed by the children and the manger (pie) was eaten in celebration. These pies were not very large, and it was thought lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas (ending with Epiphany, the 6th of January).
Over the years, the pies grew smaller, the shape of the pie was gradually changed from oblong to round, and the meat content was gradually reduced until the pies were simply filled with a mixture of suet, spices and dried fruit, previously steeped in brandy. This filling was put into little pastry cases that were covered with pastry lids and then baked in an oven. Essentially, this is today’s English mince pie.
I love that food has history and that some recipe are filled with tradition. Food is a huge part of our lives bringing us together on a daily bases from simple meals to friendly meet ups, traditional get togethers and celebrations. Some of these involve delicious foods, treats and recipe that make the experience even more special as we anticipate the distinctive flavours of treats such as Christmas Cakes, Birthday cakes, Christmas Turkey, Easter Buns and the list goes on.
This batch make 10 and they last well in the fridge. They would be nice reheated and served with coconut cream, ice cream or custard. Of course these are my dairy free favorite but if you OK with dairy then by all means they will work as well. I am going to test making a coconut milk custard this year. I'll definitely post the recipe if it's a success. None of my family like to eat dairy but they love custard with their Christmas pudding so I'm determined to come up with an alternative.
Tropical Fruit Mince TartsMakes: 10
1 cup almond meal
½ cup coconut flour
½ tsp vanilla powder
3 tbs maple syrup, agave or raw honey
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs water – if needed
10 large tbs Tropical Mango and Pineapple Fruit Mince
- Preheat oven to 180oc and grease 10 tart pans or muffin tins. To make removal even easier you can place a strip of baking paper into the bottom of each tin making sure that they're long enough that you have little handles overhanging to help remove them.
- Add almond meal, coconut flour and vanilla powder to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine ingredients evenly. Add the sweetener, zest and coconut oil them mix through until it turns to dough. You may have to knead it with your hands to make a good consistency, if too dry add the water.
- Turn out onto baking paper or a teflex sheet then place another piece on top so that you can roll it out to about ½ cm thickness and press into circles large enough so that when you place them into the tart shells they are big enough to come up the sides. Gently press them into the shell and trim the edges.
- Place the tray into the fridge for 1-2 hours then bake in an 170oc preheated oven for 10 minute then fill each tart shell with a heaped tablespoon of the fruit mince and finish baking for another 8-10 minutes.
- Let cool completely before trying to remove from tart shells.
A little bit of Christmas cheer to get us started.
I have a beautiful cake I'm going to share with you soon. It has come out amazing.. (well, I love it! ;-) ) with a thick and creamy Lemon Frosting and made with an unusual ingredient that's perfectly in line with my tropical warm weather fruity Christmas theme..