Pitelli – Christmas Fruit Mince Tarts from Southern Italy

Pitelli – Christmas Fruit Mince Tarts

These truly sensational fruit mince tarts are sure to impress – with their decadent deep filling of vine fruit, dried fruit, roasted nuts, Vino Cotto, coffee, liqueur and spices and silky sweet pastry.    Passionately created by the women in the villagers of Southern Italy for many years, these little gems are well worth the time and effort.  I’m sure you will love them and they make terrific Christmas gifts to those who appreciate quality and flavour.Pitelli_with_vinocotto

Makes approx 60+ tarts
Fruit mince is best made weeks in advance and stored into sterilized jars at room temperature.
Equipment: pasta making machine (optional)
Fruit Mince: you may wish to add cranberries, dried cherries
Allow 4 hours to make these tarts.

Fruit Mince
1 kg almonds, freshly roasted, coarsely chopped
1 kg walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 kg sultanas, coarsely chopped, washed
1 kg dried figs, stem removed, cut into thin strips
2 x 250ml bottles of Vino Cotto Original
2 tbs liqueur (mandarin or orange ie. Grand Marnier)
1 cup honey
1 large coffee cafeteria, (strong coffee about 6 coffee cups size, add sugar).
1 tbs cloves
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs sweet chocolate powder (drinking chocolate)
a few strips of mandarin peels

Method
Brew the coffee and add sugar to lightly sweeten the coffee.  Allow to cool.

The fruit mince is best made a in advance to allow the flavours to combine and stored in sterilized glass jars.  Can be made 1 month in advance.  Store at room temperature.

In a large stainless steel or heavy based pot add the sultanas, 1 bottle of Vino Cotto, figs, liquor, honey, coffee, cloves, cinnamon,  chocolate powder and mandarin peels  over a low heat.  Stir to mix ingredients.  Gradually, add the other bottle of Vino Cotto.

Cook for 40 minutes over a low heat and continuously stir.

Add the walnuts to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir.

Add the almonds to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir.

Taste for sweetness and flavour.  Add more Vino Cotto if required.  Remember the fruit will soak up some of the liquid.

Cook for a further 1 ½ hour.  Stirring constantly.

Let fruit mixture cool in pot.  Remove mandarin peel.

Once mixture has cooled pour into sterilized glass jars.  Keep at room temperature.

Sweet Pastry (an option is to use frozen shortcrust pastry)
8 eggs yolks
2 cups caster sugar
2 cups olive oil
2 cups milk
1 tbs vanilla essence
2 tbs Grand Mariner
finely grated rind of 2 lemons
1 ½ kg self raising flour
½ kg plain flour

Method

Sift flours together and place in a large mixing bowl or container.

In a separate bowl, add eggs and sugar and whisk till sugar dissolves.

Add olive oil to egg mixture and whisk.  Add milk, vanilla essence, liqueur and lemon rind.  Whisk till fluffy and bubbly.

Gradually add in the four, mixing well with each addition forming a dough.  Using a lightly floured surface, knead the dough well until it has the consistency of pasta dough.  This may take 10 minutes.

Wrap the dough in plastic film to maintain moisture and let dough rest at room temperature for ½ to 1 hour.

Knead the dough lightly and cut into small logs.  Cover the remaining dough.

Using either a pasta making machine (recommended due to the large quantity of dough) or a rolling pin, work the dough into thin sheets (like fresh pasta) approx  6cm wide and with a 3mm height for the base.

If using a pasta making machine, ensure to flour the pastry to stop it from breaking up.

If you are using a rolling pin, place the dough between two sheets of baking paper, when rolling out.

Shape tarts as per your preference.

If using a muffin tin:
Grease the holes with non-stick spray.
If you have the time, you can prepare little paper wings from greased paper that stick up to help remove the mince pies.
Cut the rounds of dough using a cookie cutter and press dough into each hole. Fill each to the top with fruit mince being careful not to get any fruit mince on the sides of tin as the fruit will burn.
Re-knead the dough scraps and cut into small stars.  Place on top of fruit mince and brush with milk.
Bake at 180C degrees for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Leave to cool completely in the pans before attempting to remove, as the pastry is delicate when warm.
Decorate with a dusting of icing sugar when ready to serve.

If shaping into bite size logs:
Traditionally, the dough is rolled out into a thin sheet (like fresh pasta) approx  6cm wide and with a 3mm eight base. Place the fruit mince on the pastry.  Using a sharp knife cut into 4cm logs.
Re-knead the dough scraps.  Cut into long strips approx 1 ½ mm wide to be used as an edge to encase the tarts with the help of milk to make the base and strips stick together.
Bake at 180C degrees for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Place on racks to cool.

Storage:
Once the tarts have completely cooled down, they can be stored in an airtight container.  They will keep fresh for 3 to 4 weeks.

 

Enjoy!

Buy the Vino Cotto you need for this recipe online. Click here.