Given the time of year and the fact that my local Asda have been selling them since September, this will be controversial but *whispers* I don't actually like mince pies. It's the mincemeat; it's cloying and, quite frankly, awful. Mincemeat means suet, and suet usually contains gluten so you have to be wary and read the label carefully if you do want to make your own mince pies (I've never had the urge). Unfortunately, it's not Christmas yet until you've eaten one of the little blighters while you write your Christmas cards (perhaps with a cheeky dram of whisky), so I've promoted another festive pie to take its place.
The town of Ecclefechan features in my list of favourite place names (alongside Thong, Drumnadrochit and Towcester) and it gives its name to a tart that - in my opinion - is even better than the humble mince pie. Essentially, it's butter, sugar, more butter and some dried fruit and nuts, what more could you ask for? The dram of whisky? Ok, I'll chuck that it too, if you insist.
- 250g gluten free pastry (try Dietary Specials frozen shortcrust pastry)
- 100g butter, melted
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 2 tbsp whisky (nothing too fancy, save your 20 year old single malt for another day)
- 50g chopped nuts
- 250g mixed dried fruit
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick, to fit a 20cm tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Stir the melted butter and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the whisky into the chopped nuts, dried fruit and cinnamon and mix together, add the butter and sugar and mix well. Add the eggs and stir until everything is combined.
- Prick the base of the chilled pastry with a fork to stop it from rising and pour in the tart filling. Smooth the top and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes at 180°C. It's ready when the pastry is golden and the filling has puffed up.