December 21, 2012

Christmas Treats - Cranberry Toffee and Finnish Prune Tarts

I had somehow managed to convince myself that Christmas is still a week away and was wondering what all this "last minute" fuss is all about. A quick flip through my calendar shows, however, that Christmas is indeed a mere weekend away and I still have a lot to do before Monday. 

We have had some hot summery weather here in Sydney and I have not spent a lot of time sweltering in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I have managed to make a batch of super-easy cranberry toffees and some traditional Finnish Christmas tarts filled with prune jam. Those tarts will be a perfect treat for myself when I work my way through the final preparations for the festivities. 

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas!

 Joulutortut - Finnish Christmas Tarts
(makes about 20)

Prune Jam

250g pitted prunes
2 tablespoons sugar
250-300ml water

Christmas Tarts

250g butter, slightly softened
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100ml cold water
(1-2 tablespoons cognac, optional)

1 egg, for brushing

1. Start by making the prune jam. Add all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil and let simmer until the prunes are completely soft. Use a hand mixer to purée the mixture into a smooth jam. Set aside.

2. Add butter, flour and baking powder to a large mixing bowl. Use your finger tips to massage the butter and flour into a crumbly mixture. Add water (and cognac, if using). Form into a smooth dough, but avoid kneading. Refrigerate for half an hour.

3. Roll the dough into a square and fold the top and the bottom half in the middle. Turn the dough (so it looks like a book), then roll again. Repeat three times. Wrap the dough in cling and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

4. To make the tarts, roll the dough into a large square (1/2 centimetre thick) and cut into about 7 x 7 cm squares. Make a diagonal cut in each corner of each square, add about a teaspoon of prune jam in the middle, then fold every other 'point' into the middle. Pinch the points to 'glue' them together, then transfer the tarts on a baking tray and refrigerate before baking.

5. Preheat the oven to 225C.

6. Brush the tarts with egg before baking. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. These can be frozen.

Cranberry Toffee
(makes 10-15 pieces)

200ml  cream
160g sugar
2 tablespoons dark treacle
1-2 tablespoons butter
about 80g dried cranberries

1. Add cream, sugar and treacle in to a saucepan. Turn on the heat and let bubble for about 20-30 minutes or until the mixture has reached a temperature of 120C. Keep stirring every now and then to avoid over-boiling. 

2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in butter and cranberries. Pour the mixture in to a square dish (15 x 20cm), lined with greased baking paper. Refrigerate for a few hours before cutting into small squares. This will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.