RECIPES: Merry mince tarts and plum pudding
IF YOU'RE looking for some last minute festive cooking inspiration, these recipes will have your table laden with delicious, easy to prepare treats in no time.
Ingredients: Shortcrust pastry sheets; Jar of fruit mince; Baking tray, greased with butter.
Method: Cut out rounds of pastry to fit tray. I usually use a glass to cut pastry. Add dessertspoon of fruit mince (don't overfill) to pastry.
Cut a lid, place on top with a little water around the edges then cut a small slit in the top. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar and cook as per pastry directions.
Ingredients: 475g sultanas; 150g raisins or prunes, coarsely chopped; 250g dried cranberries; 100g glace cherries (optional); 185ml (3/4 cup) rum or brandy or whatever you have in the cupboard. Port is also delicious; 200g butter, at room temperature; 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 4 eggs; 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (use gluten-free for GF); 3/4 cup plain flour (use gluten-free for GF); 1/2 cup self-raising flour (use gluten-free for GF); 1 cup slivered almonds; 1 tsp mixed spice; 1 tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp ground ginger; Vanilla ice-cream, to serve.
Method: Combine the dried fruit and cranberries in a bowl. Stir in alcohol. Cover and set aside, stirring every few hours, for 6 hours or overnight to macerate.
Grease a 2L (8-cup) pudding basin with butter and line the base with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (it will look curdled). Add the fruit mixture, breadcrumbs and combined flour.
Stir in almonds, mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger. Spoon into prepared basin. Smooth surface.
Place an upturned, heatproof saucer in the base of a large saucepan. Fill one-third of the saucepan with boiling water. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
Cut a 30cm-square sheet of baking paper and a 30cm-square piece of foil. Place paper on top of foil and fold to make a wide pleat in the centre. Place over basin, foil-side up.
Tie a double piece of kitchen string under the rim to secure. Make a handle, tie a double piece of string loosely over the top of the basin.
Use the handle to lower the basin onto the saucer in the pan. Add enough boiling water to reach two-thirds of the way up the side of the basin.
Simmer, covered, adding more boiling water as needed, for
four and a half hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre is clean.
Set aside 10 minutes before turning onto a plate. Serve with brandy caramel sauce, custard and ice cream.
BRANDY CARAMEL SAUCE
Ingredients: 1 cup, firmly packed brown sugar; 120g butter, chopped; 1/3 cup brandy.
Method: Stir the sugar and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the brandy. Stir for 2 minutes or until well combined.
ULTIMATE EGGNOG (serves 8)
Ingredients: 3 cups full cream milk; 1 cup thickened cream; 3 cinnamon sticks; 1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed; 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for garnish; 5 eggs, separated; 2/3 cup sugar; 3/4 cup dark rum or bourbon.
In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds, and nutmeg. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and allow to steep.
In a large bowl or mixer bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until combined and thick ribbons form when the whisk is lifted.
Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to mix until the mixture is combined and smooth. Add bourbon or rum and stir. Refrigerate overnight or for up to three days.
Before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into eggnog until combined. Serve and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.