I asked one of my Italian work collegues this week what kind of things her and her friends eat at Christmas here in Australia. She has been here for 8 years now and is an Australian citizen. We were standing in front of this basket full of fruit mince muffins, obviously a take on the fruit mince tarts many of us here in Australia, grew up on. Do you ever eat fruit mince tarts I asked her?
They are pretty popular here even though they were first made in Britain after the crusaders returned from the Middle East. The idea to combine mince meat, suet, spices and fruit became very popular around Christmas time and they were originally more savoury than sweet. Things changed a little over time and and the minced meat was replaced with an entirely sweet mixture of fruits and spices. So they are a much loved tradition for us here in Australia, transplanted from the old country where we were all once predominately from.
I tried to explain what I meant by a small tart with mince fruit inside and it took several animated minutes before she finally said ….”oh you mean those little pies with the stars on top. Oh yes, I know those. No we don’t eat them. ”
Mm well I do. AND I love them. I have decided though that there may be an easier way to make them, say, for Christmas morning or a get together before Christmas.
Although it pains me to say so, sometimes there isn’t enough time to make pastry. If you are like me and you love fruit mince tarts but have run out of time, here is the recipe for you. Fruit Mince Muffins, they’ll fill the spot.
There have been many years that I have made dozens of tarts for people, but it seems that the days are getting shorter because I just can’t fit making them in this year. Well, so far any way.
These are not quite like a rich buttery tart, but they are a great substitute considering they take about 20 minutes total to make. You might find they have a taste that is more appealing to kids as well. They are really best eaten the day they are made but this basket is still being consumed 3 days later and the eater is very happy with them. The crunchy sugar crust is not to be skipped it makes these all the more worthwhile and they have very little sweetness with out this little sensory treat. They can be warmed and eaten with custard.
Make your own fruit mince it is always so much better. But, since we are talking about being short of time I think we can safely say that buying it will have these in the oven twice as quickly.
Yeah now I think you’ve got my interest.
What about you. What is your favourite Christmas treat?
- 300 gm SR flour (2 Aust cups)
- 150gm caster sugar ( approx ¾ Aust cup)
- 250ml milk (1 Aust cup)
- 80ml vegetable oil (1/3 Aust cup)
- 1 egg , beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 410 gm fruit mince (such as Robertsons from any supermarket) or make your own
- 100 gm melted butter extra (4 Tablespoons)
- 200gm ( approx ½ cup) extra caster sugar for dipping the tops in
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C / 340 F
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix together.
- In a separate bowl whisk the milk,oil, egg and vanilla, until well blended. Pour this Mix together until JUST combined. Do not overmix. It will become tough.
- Use a muffin tray ( mini or larger) and cupcake papers to fit . Half fill each muffin case then using a teaspoon, spoon a teaspoon of mince onto the top of each . Cover this mince mixture with a spoonful of muffin mixture.
- Bake these for approximately 20 minutes, or until slightly risen and firm to touch.
- Cool on a cake rack.
- Paint the top of each muffin with butter and then dip each into caster sugar.