This Christmas tart is a keeper.
Just close your eyes and imagine: a base of crisp, short pastry, just enough alcoholic mincemeat to make you think Christmas, a layer of moist, almondy frangipane, all topped off with a sharp burst of flavour from a scattering of Irish cranberries. It’s sweet and tart and fruity and dangerously, dangerously moreish. Oh yes.
And the cranberries? Irish, you say? They’re actually from Ireland’s only cranberry farm, near Birr in Co Offaly. This was a pilot project started on four acres of cut-away bog by Bord na Mona back in the early 1990s. It was one of those bright ideas that never really went anywhere – imports were cheaper, no one was that interested in Irish cranberries – until Ciara Morris of Slieve Bloom Farmhouse Foods and Michael Camon took it over in 2007.
Now Irish cranberries have made their way to Chapter One in Dublin, the Ballymaloe Cookery School and are available in selected Tesco stores.
When you get your hands on some of these gloriously coloured berries, it’s well worth showcasing them in this extra special seasonal tart. And let me know. I’ll be around for a cuppa.
Irish Cranberry, Frangipane and Mincemeat Tart
I normally make double the amount of pastry. It’s exactly the same amount of work and then you can stash the extra disc in the freezer for your next sweet tart. I use my mother’s homemade fruity, boozy mincemeat here but you can always pimp up a jar with some grated apple and a dollop of brandy.
For sweet shortcrust pastry:
175g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
115g butter, cold and cubed
40-60mls ice cold water, mixed with a squeeze of lemon juice
For the frangipane:
125g caster sugar
125g butter, at room temperature
125g ground almonds
2 tablespoons amaretto or 1 teaspoon almond extract
50g self-raising flour
4 tablespoons sweet mincemeat, preferably one with plenty of booze
150g fresh cranberries
Combine the flour, caster sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until you have chunks the size of large breadcrumbs. Add the water gradually, mixing the dough until just combined. Shape into a disc and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. This can also be made in the food processor.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fanbake). Roll out the pastry and line a 23cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin. Prick with a fork, line with a sheet of greaseproof paper and weigh down with baking beans (or rice, or dried chickpeas). Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove the greaseproof paper and beans, then return to the oven for a further 6-8 minutes.
Turn down the oven to 180°C (160°C fanbake).
Meanwhile, make the frangipane: beat the caster sugar, room temperature butter and ground almonds together until smooth – if you have the food processor out, work away, otherwise use a mixer or a strong arm. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well, then the amaretto or almond extract and flour.
Spread the base of the tart thinly with the mincemeat, cover carefully with frangipane and sprinkle the cranberries over. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the frangipane is set and browned. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tart tin. Allow to cool on a wire tray.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream that has had a little amaretto or brandy folded through.
Slieve Bloom Farmhouse Foods also produce an award-winning Irish Cranberry and Mulled Wine Sauce along with Ciara’s own Irish Cranberry Sauce. Many thanks to Ciara for sending, and Amy for dropping, cranberry and sauce samples to me last month. For more information, go to Slieve Bloom Farmhouse Foods.
Brunching at Christmas: Christmas Muffins
Brunching at Christmas: Cranberry Orange Sauce
Cranberry, Orange and Port Relish
Christmas baking: Mincemeat and Polenta Shortbread
Cranberries for Christmas: Cranberry Christmas Cake