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Christmas Treats - Cranberry Toffee and Finnish Prune Tarts

Posted Dec 21 2012 12:00am

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.

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