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Mouth-watering Yuletide Treats from the Scottish Highlands

December 09, 2014

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Whatever feast you’re celebrating this season, you can delight your guests by borrowing a few culinary traditions from the Scottish Highlands. The Scots have an enviable heritage of toothsome inventions sporting mysterious names like “Black Bun”- which is not a bun, “Mincemeat Tarts”- which are meatless, and a long list of puddings that bear no relation to our American custard-type desserts.

Besides the beloved melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, most traditional cakes and tarts from Scotland are variations on a theme of dried fruits, nuts and spices, sometimes infused with whiskey or pressed into buttery shortbread shells. Served with a dollop of clotted cream- (think of a cross between butter and whipped cream) and drizzled with brandy, these Yuletide treats will kick your celebrations into high gear:

Mincemeat tarts– The name itself is confusing to many Americans in that the sweet, dense filling contains no meat. The delectable concoction, a mixture of dried fruit, sugar, and spices pressed into into a flaky, delicate butter crust, has been rightly loved for generations. Some recipes even include an aromatic “tot” of whiskey for an extra kick. Legend has it that Father Christmas is grateful for a few of these left by the chimney.

Ecclefechan Tarts, having originated in the small highland village in the south of Scotland by the same name, are similar to Mincemeat Tarts, but combine crushed almonds with the fruit and omit the spices for a treacly filling.

Christmas Cake or Strathspey Cake is a type of fruit cake, topped with a layer of marzipan and soft icing. This confection is best made months ahead, being “fed” at regular intervals with brandy to help mature the cake.

Fruit Pudding– For holiday drama, nothing can compare to Fruit pudding- or “Christmas pudding”, the confection immortalized by Dickens in his holiday classic “A Christmas Carol”. Who can forget the scene in the Cratchit home, as Mother makes her way to the table amid pounding and cheering, delivering the flaming Christmas pudding doused in brandy and garnished with a sprig of holly?

Black Bun-This dense, spicy fruitcake ensconced in rich pastry was originally eaten on Twelfth Night, and is now served at Hogmanay.

Adding a bit of Scottish flavor to your holidays is easy. For homemade versions, you’ll want to get started right away- (check out the homemade Mincemeat recipe below), or you can skip the fuss and buy excellent ready-made treats to share with friends and family.

Mince meatHomemade Mincemeat

  • 1 lb Apples
  • 1 lb (Zante) Currants
  • 1 lb Light Brown Sugar
  • 12 oz Vegetarian Suet
  • 8 oz Seedless Raisins
  • 8 oz Sultanas
  • 3 oz Candied Peel
  • 3 oz Stem Ginger
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground Ginger
  • Half a Nutmeg nut (or 1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg)
  • Juice and rind of 2 Lemons
  • 1 shot of Brandy (optional)
  1. Rough up the apples, raisins, sultanas and candied peel in a food mixer.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and mix.
  3. Cover and leave overnight in a warm, dry place.
  4. Stir the mincemeat and then pack into clean, dry Kelner jars. Store in a cool place for at least four weeks.

 

Small photo by Stuart Caie / CC by 2.0
Feature image ©Walkers Shortbread


Did you know…

The Walkers company logo is an illustration of one of the most significant events in Scottish history — Bonnie Prince Charlie’s farewell to Flora MacDonald. The 18th Century heroine helped the prince escape government forces after the failed 1745 Jacobite rebellion.

The post Mouth-watering Yuletide Treats from the Scottish Highlands appeared first on The Daily Tea.



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