These are just the ticket for those who find commercial mincemeat mixtures too sweet and glaggy.
½ cup dried apricots 1 cup red grapes Finely grated zest 1 lemon 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 cup fruit mince 70g (2½ oz) slivered almonds 500g (a good lb) rolled sheet of sweet pastry, or 4 small sheets pre-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry 1 small egg, beaten Icing sugar for dusting
1 Put apricots in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Leave apricots to soften for 2-3 hours.
2 Cut grapes in half, remove any pips and cut flesh into slivers. Add to apricots with lemon zest and juice, fruit mince and almonds.
3 Cut out 24 or so small star shapes for the top of the pies, transfer to a tray and keep chilled in the refrigerator. Cut out the bases for the pies, re-rolling scraps if necessary to get enough. If pastry sticks in your tartlet tin, cut small squares of baking (parchment paper) and use to line each hole of the tartlet tin. Make a snip towards the centre of each square of baking paper with scissors, then put a round of pastry on top and mold them into the hole in the tartlet tray. Fill with fruit mince and top with pastry stars. Brush pastry stars with beaten egg.
4 Bake for 12-15 minutes, in an oven preheated to 190°C (fan bake), or until the pastry is golden. Cool on a cake rack. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
Dried apricots give these mince pies a nice tang, but be sure to use sharp-tasting dried apricots, not sweet or bland ones. Get yourself ahead and make the fruit mince 2-3 days before making the pies, but hold back on the almonds as they’ll soften, and add them when you make the pies.