Little Jack Horner sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie.
He put in his thumb,
and pulled out a plum,
And said, 'What a good boy am I.'
Traditional nursery rhyme
One of the building blocks for many traditional Christmas goodies is fruit mince. As a child, I hated fruit mince, because of its rather dense, slightly cloying texture, and of course, it usually contains citrus zest - a big ewww ingredient for a child!
However, I am now more "mature" in my tastes - I drink red wine, I eat blue cheese, and I am happy to have the sharpness of citrus zest in my food. Happily, this also means that at Christmas, I can indulge in treats such as fruit mince pies.
I've never made my own fruit mince or fruit mince pies before, so this is a new adventure for me. There are literally hundreds of different recipes for fruit mince, as with every other Christmas treat, so to tone down the noise, I went straight to a recipe by Australia's original doyenne of home cooking, Margaret Fulton. This recipe is in Margaret's Fulton's Christmas, printed last year, and can also be found in the Australian Good Food Christmas Baking supplement with the December issue of Australian Good Food magazine, presumably because Suzanne Gibbs, Margaret's daughter, co-wrote the book and is a staff writer for Australian Good Food. There are no plums in Margaret's recipe, so Jack Horner will have to amuse himself in other ways.
Margaret's recipe makes a whopping nine cups of fruit mince; I scaled it down to two thirds. However, the original recipe in all its glory is as follows:
120g chopped blanched almonds
2 peeled, cored and grated Granny Smith apples
330g packed brown sugar
150g melted butter
185ml brandy or rum
1 teaspoon mixed spice
grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
Process the fruit and almonds together in a food processor until coarsely chopped. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size and horse-power of your food processor, and depending on whether you make the full recipe.
Put the chopped fruit and nuts into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and stir well to combine.
Cover the fruit mince and chill for at least 2 days before using, stirring daily. You'll be surprised at how it sucks up all the liquid and becomes quite dense! The fruit mince will keep for several months stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long!).
On the weekend, I will be making some goodies for our work bake sale using the fruit mince. I will post about these soon.