Growing up in Australia, we always had a lot of traditional English fare at Christmas, and fruit mince pies were a mainstay. For me, mince pies were a much better sign that Christmas was around the corner, than carols playing in the stores. It was the same as a seeing Hot Cross Buns as Easter neared. Since moving abroad, fruit mince pies have been one thing I really missed, but even in Australia - finding exactly the right mince pie is tough - so here is my version. Although it is a long process to make them, I think it just isn't Christmas without them! —aussiefoodie
finely chopped candied peel
candied red cherries
candied pineapple (or other candied fruit)
Chop the dried fruit so it is in small pieces, roughly the size of a raisin. Mix in the peel, sugar, Cointreau, Rum, zest, lemon juice, apple and spices. Mix well.
Note: Mixed Spice is a spice blend commonly used in British cooking, usually to flavor sweet dishes, but can sometimes be used in savory dishes also. It is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. It also contains some of the following spices - ground cloves, ground ginger, ground coriander, mace. It is similar to Pumpkin Pie Spice. You can mix up your own version of these spices to flavor the fruit mince.
Leave the fruit mince covered at room temperature to stand for at least a week, and stir regularly. It gets better with age, and I have stored fruit mince for up to 3 years, in sterilized jars in the refrigerator. In a pinch, you could marinate overnight, but the fruit mince only gets better with age.
Chop the butter into small pieces, and rub into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the pastry comes together in a smooth ball, and is not sticky.
Wrap the pastry ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll the pastry out on a floured surface until very thin.
Butter or spray with canola oil, 36 mini-muffin or pie tins. I use mini-pie pans that are approximately 1.5" in diameter, without a flat base, but entirely concave inside - they're perfect for filling, without getting too much pastry. But mini-muffin pans would work fine.
Using a circle cutter slightly bigger than the diameter of your pans, cut out 36 circles of pastry, and line the inside of the pans with the pastry circle.
Spoon one tablespoon of fruit mince (mixed well) into each pie.
Cut out 36 stars using a small star shaped cutter, and place one star on top of each pie (if you don't have enough pastry, you can skip this step).
Brush the top of each star with the beaten egg wash.
Bake the pies for 10 - 15 minutes at 400F, until the pastry is golden and flaky, and the fruit mince is bubbly.
Remove from the oven, cool the pies on a mesh rack. I like to serve the pies sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. The pies will keep for 1 - 2 weeks stored in an air-tight container. I think they improve a little with age - I like to make them at least a day of ahead of when I'm serving them.