Christmas Conserve and Custard Tarts – a Fruity Alternative to Mince Pies

I don’t know about you, but I think mince pies are so over-rated. Controversial I know, but there’s something about mincemeat that sets my teeth on edge. I’m ok with it if it is a tiny amount or it is drowned in custard, but otherwise I’m not a fan. But everyone has mince pies with a drink at Christmas, so what do you have if you don’t like them? With the help of the wonderful BODDINGTON’S BERRIES you can enjoy a lovely sweet custard tart with a fruity festive flavour, and it is so easy to make!

This year they have brought out 2 special Christmas products: a beautiful Christmas Chutney which I talk about in THIS POST and a deliciously indulgent Christmas Conserve. Both of these products are absolutely heavenly, and this Christmas Conserve really has the Wow factor! Boddington’s Berries kindly sent me a jar to try in some recipes, and my first thought was how good it would be in these little tarts. I have made these tarts before using mincemeat, and until now that was my alternative to mince pies. That has changed now as the updated version with this conserve is much much more delicious!

Before I give you the recipe, let me tell you about the Christmas Conserve, as this… is… amazing!

As you can see, it is packaged beautifully with a Christmassy label, and on the side of this it says,

“This conserve captures all the festive flavours. Made from oranges, strawberries, cranberries and a magical spoonful of cinnamon and cloves. Serve on fruit toast in front of a crackling fire”

I love that serving suggestion. I can imagine sitting in front of a fire doing exactly that. That would be a perfect Christmas Day breakfast too!

This Conserve is jam-packed with fruit (no pun intended) and the combination used is absolutely perfect. The addition of the cinnamon and cloves means it really is Christmas in a jar. I have ordered more of this so we can enjoy a Christmas cream tea on Christmas Eve when all the preparations are done and we can finally relax. I am really looking forward to that! This Conserve on freshly baked scones with a dollop of clotted cream will be divine!!! (If you fancy the sound of that too, order a jar today to make sure you have it in time for Christmas, and THIS RECIPE is the best one I have ever tried for scones. Trust me, you will LOVE this conserve on scones).

Back to my recipe. These tarts are made with a beautiful sweet cinnamon pastry which complements the conserve well. You can make your own custard for the tarts if you prefer but they work so well with ready-made custard, so I just use that. Christmas bakes for me are all about great taste with minimal fuss as there is always soooooo much to do, so the occasional cheat is allowed 😉 As this Christmas Conserve is such high quality and high in fruit, it doesn’t bubble up and overflow like normal jam often does in tarts. This means you can use more of it in these as it stays perfectly where you place it.

Here is the recipe:

 

CHRISTMAS CONSERVE AND CUSTARD TARTS

225 g plain flour

115 g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing the pan

85 g caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

300 ml ready-made custard

4 rounded tablespoons ground almonds

1 jar Boddington’s Berries Christmas Conserve (you won’t use it all, don’t worry)

Toasted flaked almonds, to sprinkle on top

Icing sugar, to dust

  • Sieve the flour into a bowl and then use your fingertips to rub the butter in to it, until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix it all together. Add the beaten egg and, using a round ended knife, mix the egg in to the flour mixture as best as you can. Use your hand to press any dry bits in to the pastry mixture. Press it all together until it becomes a nice smooth ball. It will feel a bit sticky but that is perfect. Wrap it in clingfilm or foil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin pan.
  • Mix the custard and the ground almonds together.
  • When the pastry has chilled, gently press it together until it is soft enough to roll out. Dust your worktop with flour and roll out your pastry to about 4 mm thickness. Use a large round cutter to cut out circles.
  • Press the pastry circles in to the muffin pan cavities. The pastry sides should go at least halfway up the pan. (If you have cut your pastry thick enough you can gently press the sides to make the pastry go higher up the sides if needed).
  • Add 1 heaped teaspoon of almond custard to each pastry case, and then add a teaspoon of Christmas Conserve on the middle of the custard. (If you have pressed your pastry cases high up the sides of the pan you can add a bit more of each filling). Sprinkle a few toasted flaked almonds over the top.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
  • Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently remove them using a small spatula or knife to ease them out.
  • Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold.

Depending on how high you made your pastry cases, you will probably have enough pastry and filling to make 4-6 more tarts.

The custard puffs up while the tarts are baking but don’t worry, it does deflate a bit when they are ready.

I hope you like these as much as we all do in my house!

To buy this delicious Christmas Conserve, CLICK HERE to go to directly to the product on the Boddington’s Berries website. Delivery is free so grab some quick in time for Christmas! Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Sausage Meat and Chutney Plait Recipe

It is December so I am now officially allowed to talk about one of my favourite times of the year… Christmas! One of the many things I love about Christmas is the range of flavours and aromas of all the beautiful food. Cinnamon, gingerbread, orange, cloves, cranberry, nutmeg, spices… the list goes on.

Boddington’s Berries is a wonderful company who produce delicious high fruit conserves and savoury chutneys from their farm base in Cornwall. They have recently launched 2 new products for the festive period, Christmas Conserve and Christmas Chutney, and they very kindly sent me some to use in recipes.

The Christmas Chutney is packed in a glass jar with a lovely Christmassy label. It put me in a festive mood as soon as I saw it! The label says

“Our tangy Christmas Chutney warms the soul. Made with cranberries, chilli, orange and spices that work together to ensure this chutney packs a punch. Best served with festive meats and cheeses.”

I tried a bit on a piece of extra mature Cheddar and it was wonderful. If you have a cheese board at Christmas, you definitely need to try this chutney! In fact, whatever you are having at Christmas, you need to try this chutney!!!

On Christmas Day in my house I only prepare 2 meals. My son is usually very excited to get on with opening presents when he wakes up, so we have a hot breakfast late. So late that we could call it brunch. Christmas dinner is ready for around 4pm. That means we don’t have a Christmas tea of turkey sandwiches, cold meats etc like many people do. We have that type of meal on Boxing Day instead. One of the things I love to make for that buffet-style feast is a sausage meat plait. It is so easy yet so satisfying. Like a giant sausage roll but prettier. When I say it is easy, that’s because I use ready-made puff pastry. You can of course make your own from scratch, but when I’ve heard enough top chefs and bakers say they often use ready made, then that’s good enough for me! Obviously though this only applies to puff pastry. I make other types from scratch.

I decided to make a trial one with a thin layer of Christmas Chutney inside. The speed at which it disappeared after we had tried a bit tells me that I’ll definitely be making this version again for Boxing day! The red onion, chilli and cranberries go so well with the sausage meat. You can add chopped fresh herbs to the sausage meat if you want but to be honest, you really don’t need to add anything with the amount of flavour that the chutney gives.

Make sure you take your pastry out of the fridge 10 minutes before you plan to start the recipe, as it will crack if you unroll it straight away. Stupidly I forgot to take photos of how to plait the pastry but if you Google it you’ll see plenty of videos and pictures showing you step by step. I’ll explain it as best as I can in the recipe. So here it is:

 

SAUSAGE MEAT AND CHUTNEY PLAIT

1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (around 320 g)

3 tablespoons Boddington’s Berries Christmas Chutney

450 g sausage meat

small handful of fresh herbs such as coriander, chopped (optional)

1 beaten egg, to glaze

black onion seeds, to decorate

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper.
  • Gently unroll the sheet of puff pastry so that a short end is near you. This just makes it easier to plait.
  • Spread the chutney evenly down the middle of the pastry sheet, leaving a gap at the top and bottom.

  • Place the sausage meat (mixed with herbs, if using) on top of the chutney. Fold the top and bottom edges over the sausage meat, then brush beaten egg on top of these folded edges.
  • Using a sharp knife for neatness, cut the pastry slightly diagonally downwards from the left edge of the filling to the left edge of the pastry. Repeat this all the way down the left side side, leaving about 2 cm between each strip. Repeat on the right hand side of the filling. (Google this stage if it doesn’t make sense).
  • Carefully pick up the first strip at the top and fold it across the filling. It should lie nicely over the top folded edge, at a slight angle downwards. Pick up the top strip on the other side and fold that across the filling, again angled slightly downwards.
  • Repeat, alternating left and right strips, all the way down to the bottom, so it looks like a plait. The bottom strips should lie across the bottom folded edge, sealing it all together.
  • Brush the plait generously with beaten egg, then sprinkle black onion seeds on top.

  • Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
  • Serve hot or cold.

You could of course use other chutneys in this plait, but I would strongly recommend the Christmas Chutney if you want to really get some festive flavours on your table! It truly is delicious.

Boddington’s Berries can often be found at food fayres but the easiest way to buy their beautiful products is through their website.

Their Christmas Chutney can be found HERE so stock up ready for your festive feast!

 

 

Mincemeat and Custard Tarts…. An Alternative to Mince Pies

2016-01-03 01.26.59

I know it’s a bit late to be posting a recipe you would normally associate with Christmas but I’m going to be making these all year round so I thought I’d share the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of traditional mince pies unless they are completely drowning in custard, so I decided to try and make a pie which had the custard inside ready. I had a few very messy attempts before realising it just doesn’t work as a pie. You can’t fill them deep enough with oozing custard. And then they leak and look a mess. Not good enough. I found THIS RECIPE but didn’t fancy using puff pastry. I figured a shortcrust pastry would hold the filling better and then decided to try my favourite sweet pastry instead. I baked them in a muffin tin rather than a bun tray as it needs the deeper sides to hold it all together. This recipe makes about 18 tarts. I take no credit for the filling as it was originally thought up by the previous recipe writer. My son doesn’t like mincemeat but wanted some custard tarts too. I substituted the mincemeat for jam and they came out beautifully. He ate 2 of his jam and custard tarts as soon as they were cool enough and has asked if I will make these all the time!

MINCEMEAT AND CUSTARD TARTS

225 g plain flour

115 g butter, cubed and chilled

85 g caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

300 ml ready made custard

4 rounded tbsps ground almonds

Mincemeat (1 tsp per tart)

Toasted flaked almonds, to sprinkle on top

Icing sugar, to dust

  • Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Pour in the beaten egg and use a round bladed metal knife to mix it in as best as you can. Use your hand to press any dry bits into the pastry mixture. Press it all together until it is a smooth ball. It will feel very slightly sticky. Wrap it in foil or clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180C. Very lightly grease a muffin tin with butter.
  • Mix the custard and the ground almonds together.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and gently knead it to soften it to a rollable consistency. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry to your preferred thickness. Mine was about 4mm. Use a large round cutter to cut out circles.
  • Gently press the pastry circles into the muffin tin holes. Add 1 heaped teaspoon of custard mixture to each tart, and then add 1 teaspoon of mincemeat in the middle. Sprinkle over a few flaked almonds and then bake in the centre of the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then gently remove using a small spatula or knife. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.

As you can see from my picture below, my largest pastry cutter only cut circles big enough to go halfway up the sides of the tin. If yours goes higher you can add more filling.

2016-01-03 01.21.08

2016-01-02 19.04.12

I’m going to substitute the mincemeat for a cherry in the Summer as that would go so well with the almond custard. Let me know if you come up with any variations too 🙂