We wait every year for traditional Christmas foods. For those of who grew up in Western Canada, Murchie’s Christmas Blend Tea is a cherished annual treat. It’s on my list of seasonal creature comforts, not only for an afternoon break, but as a festive way to start my day.
Since the original writing of this post, Murchie’s Christmas Blend has sold out completely. Not to worry, the Orange Spice Blend is a perfect substitute. It seems I’m not the only one who gets nostalgic for Murchie’s tea at Christmas!
Black tea is a fabulous ingredient in baking, especially in desserts. These little raisin tarts are not too sweet, thanks to the judicious use of brown sugar and the astringency that comes from soaking the raisins in double strength black tea. The tannins in the tea balance the sweetness of the syrup and the dried fruit, adding depth and just a hint of bitterness due to the extra strong brew. Like a cross between butter tarts and mincemeat, these little treats are delicately spiced, drawing on the flavours in this scented tea blend for a perfectly balanced taste.
Tiny tartelettes are perfect for gifting and are just the right size to share space on a dessert platter with your shortbread and slices of Murchie’s Christmas Cake. They make a sweet contrast to my tangy Cranberry Apple Christmas Rose Tarts!
I use the rest of the pot to make a hot toddy based on the same flavours in the raisin tarts. You really won’t find a more comforting pairing than a tea toddy with tea-infused raisin tarts!
CHRISTMAS TEA RAISIN TARTS
- minimuffin baking trays
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup sultana or Thompson raisins (or black currants!)
- ¼ cup diced candied lemon or orange peel
- 1 cup double-strength Murchie’s Christmas Blend black tea
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp lemon zest (or orange zest)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp butter (if salted, skip pinch of salt above)
- 1 batch your favourite double-crust pie dough
- Roll your pie dough and cut out circles, rolling and re-rolling the leftover dough until you have 48 identical shapes. The ring of a wide-mouth mason jar is the perfect size for mini-muffin pans and should yield the correct number of pastry shells for 4 dozen tarts. Press circles into mini-muffin tins. Refrigerate for two hours, or up to 24 hours in advance.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Brew a pot of Murchie’s Christmas blend double or even triple strength. Loose leaf or tea bags both work just fine.
- Stir together brown sugar, cornstarch and pinch of salt, if using.
- Combine raisins and candied peel in a pot on the stovetop with tea and rum. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes on low.
- Turn up the heat to medium and add in the sugar mixture. Stir together for 2-5 minutes, until liquid begins to look a little less cloudy.
- Turn off the heat, then add vanilla, zest and butter. Stir until butter is melted and let cool.
- Carefully spoon the cooled filling into the prepared tart shells. Try to scoop up mostly fruit with your spoon, filling each shell no more than halfway. Distribute remaining syrup evenly throughout. Caution: too much filling will spill over during baking, making the tarts hard to remove from the muffin tin.
- Bake for 12 minutes, checking at 9 minutes to make sure they don’t bubble over. Unlike a cake, you can pop these out of the oven, and then put them back in to brown further if you desire.
- Serve with a Hot Tea Toddy. Merry Christmas!