gin and tonic lemon tart

Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit

There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the geese that are getting fat.

A time for care, joy, love and laughter

As we prepare our festive feasts, fill our turkeys with fabulous homemade stuffing and bake treats and sweets for the whole family to enjoy, it’s worth thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves.  But it’s also a time to celebrate with joy and laughter after a tough few years for everyone. The streets of Barcelona are lit up to celebrate in elegant Christmas style.  The skies are blue, the sun is bright but there’s a chill in the air that keeps the Christmas spirit alive.

Golden lights, sweet potatoes and Turrón…

In Barcelona, strolling down the elegant Passeig de Gracia past the smart hotels and high end fashion retailers, it’s easy to be entranced by the mile or so of golden lights falling from the sky above you like snow.  The old, atmospheric plazas of the Gothic quarter are strung with decorations and Christmas markets sell mulled wine by the glass. Chestnuts are roasted with sweet potatoes from little roadside grills. Local Christmas delicacies such as sweet, nutty, chewy Turrón are laid out to stuff those stockings with.  Even the stunningly beautiful Sagrada Familia has been adorned with a giant 12-pointed star. It’s 7.5m wide, weighs 5.5 tonnes and has just been hoisted 160 m into the air to shine across the city from its tallest point.

Carols, skaters and stinky Stilton…

In London, the carols will be ringing out, the streets will be ablaze with Christmas lights and the pubs will be packed with revelers.  The Salvation Army will be blasting out Christmas tunes and the pantomimes will be full of kids and adults shouting: “he’s behind you” at the tops of their lungs.  Mince pies and stinky Stilton cheese will be filling the air with rich aromas and skaters will be skating their merry dances across ice rinks around the city.  Christmas markets will be filled with shoppers buying presents and treats and the London will be transformed into an Instagram wonderland.

And it will be the same the whole world over, with different traditions and customs celebrating peace on earth and goodwill to mankind.

Gin is the spirit of Christmas

But one thing’s for sure, eating and drinking will be high up on the agenda this year (like every year).  Gin will be making a prominent appearance in my house as we knock up a few gin Cosmopolitans to celebrate Christmas Eve.  There will be steaming mugs of hot gin toddy available for breakfast on Christmas Day, alongside warm mince pies with sweet brandy butter melting on top. There will be glasses of sloe gin and gin liqueurs and even a delicious gin sherry trifle for Boxing Day and beyond.  We have recipes for all of these delicious Christmas treats but here’s one more delicious gin based dessert that is bound to get your mouth watering.

Light, refreshing gin and tonic lemon tart

After all those sweet, rich, sticky festive flavours such as Christmas pudding and mince pies, sometimes it’s nice to have something a little lighter and sharper to cut through some of that richness. So, here’s a perfect recipe for the Christmas table that can be served at any time over the holidays as a lighter, fresher alternative for the buffet table.  This tangy gin and tonic lemon tart with candied lemon combines gin and tonic with the lemony mix for a double celebration. It’s guaranteed to get your sleigh bells ringing this Christmas. Plus, it has the added benefit of a large helping of our favourite spirit.

Gin and tonic lemon tart recipe

Ingredients:

  • 11/3 cups (295g) caster sugar
  • 8 eggs, plus 4 egg yolks
  • 250g unsalted butter, chopped
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons and 1 lime, plus 1 extra thinly sliced lime to serve
  • 2 tsp juniper berries
  • gelatine leaves

Almond shortcrust:

  • 1/2 cup (50g) almond meal
  • 11/4 cups (185g) plain flour
  • 1/3 cup (40g) pure icing sugar
  • 125g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1-2 tbsp tonic water, chilled

Candied lemon

  • 11/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) tonic water, chilled
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) gin

Method:

  1. For the curd, place sugar, eggs and egg yolks, butter, lemon and lime zest and juice, and juniper berries in a large heatproof bowl. Whisk to combine. Place over a saucepan of gently simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) and cook, whisking constantly, for 6-8 minutes until thickened.
  2. While this is boiling, soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Remove curd from heat, squeeze excess water from the gelatine and add the leaves to the bowl, whisking to combine. Strain into a clean bowl, discarding solids. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until thickened.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 22cm springform cake pan with baking paper. For the almond shortcrust, place the almond meal, flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and whiz until a rough crumb. With the motor running, add the egg yolk and vanilla, then add the tonic water, a little at a time, until the pastry comes together.
  4. Press the dough into the lined cake pan to create a 3mm thick base and sides about 3mm thick. Chill for 30 minutes. Trim the sides of the tart to a straight edge, about 3.5cm deep. Using a fork, prick holes in the bottom of the tart. Line the tart with baking paper and fill with pastry weights.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove pastry weights and baking paper. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the tart. Return tart to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Set aside until cool, then remove from the pan. Spread thickened curd into the tart case and chill for 4 hours or until firm.
  6. For candied lemon, place sugar and tonic water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and add lemon. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until soft, then remove the lemon and spread evenly over a wire rack to cool. Cool syrup slightly, then add the gin and cool completely.
  7. Top tart with candied lemon and extra lime slices. Drizzle with gin syrup to serve.

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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gin cake

Christmas gin treat: boozy ginger and orange drizzle cake

Who doesn’t like cake? I suspect most of us do – especially if that cake is baked with all the boozy goodness of gin!
This delicious, moist fruity spiced cake is made with Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin (for an extra hit of orange). Its buttery flavour is boosted by a rich mixture of gin-soaked fruit and raisins, and then warmed up with a blast of ginger. It’s then topped with a deliciously sweet and citrus gin, sugar and Clementine icing that you can slowly drizzle over this delicious treat while it’s still warm and just out of the oven. It’s making my mouth water just writing about it.

So, if you’re still looking for some extra home-made treats to serve to your loved ones this Christmas, give this recipe a try. And if you’ve still got room in that strange space between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s the perfect time to dig put the old chef’s apron and get your hands dirty in the kitchen (accompanied by a large gin-based beverage, of course!)

In fact, this is a great recipe all year round, especially when paired with a glass of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla as you lovingly stir all those gorgeous ingredients. We’ll drink to that!

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100g of mixed fried fruit or raisins
  • 50ml of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin
  • 30g of fresh ginger

For the icing

Method

  1. Pour the orange gin over the dried fruit and leave to soak for 30 minutes
  2. Mix together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the flour and fold it in with a metal spoon carefully ensuring not to over mix.
  5. Finally add in the soaked fruit and mix together.
  6. Pour the cake mix into a loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven 180c
  7. While the cake is baking, mix together the gin, icing sugar and the juice from the clementine.
  8. When the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before drizzling the icing over the top of the cake.

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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christmas mince pies in foil paper

Boozy mince pies: let the Christmas fun be-gin

At this time of year, the pre-Christmas nibbling has probably already begun.
Mince pies are one of the most traditional of all English treats at Christmas time – and for many, they are the taste of Christmas. But if you’re not brought up with this tradition, it’s sometimes quite difficult to get your head around the term “mince pie”. In fact, these days, there’s absolutely no meat to be found inside a traditional mince pie.

These sweet little pies have been decorating English Christmas tables since the 13th century when they were first brought to England by crusaders returning from the Middle East. The original Mediterranean recipes included meats, fruits and spices representing the symbolism of the gifts delivered to the baby Jesus by the Magi. In fact, in the early days, mince pies were actually rectangular and “manger-shaped” and were often topped with a pastry image of the Christ Child.

From crusader cuisine to rich, sweet Christmas pies

Over the centuries, these tasty sweet and savoury treats began to lose the savoury.  In fact, these days, the meat has been removed altogether, in favour of traditional sweet mincemeat – a rich mixture of chopped, dried fruit, spices, sugar and distilled spirits. 

The fruits usually include chopped apple, fresh citrus peal, currants, candied fruits, citron and brandy or rum. It’s then all mixed together and aged so that the flavours deepen and the texture changes to a dark, sticky, boozy Christmas goo! This gorgeous mixture is then encased in little pastry packages of buttery goodness and baked. 

Once out of the oven, they receive a final light dusting of sugar powder to finish it all off. 

For the final step: top with a little cream or brandy butter and pop this little sweet, spicy, steamy Christmas parcel into your mouth. Christmas will follow. 

This amazing mince pie mixture is unlikely to last you the whole festive season, but if you maintain your discipline, it can be stored for up to 10 years. 

Sloe is better

But what if we were to substitute a little gin where traditionally there was rum or brandy?

And even better, what about sloe gin?

If that’s more to your taste, then here’s a simple little mince pie recipe that means you don’t have to mix your spirits – just stick with gin!

These festive pies are made with lashings of sloe gin for a truly festive blast of boozy, fruity, seasonal goodness and they’re really easy to make. We recommend using Sipsmith Sloe Gin for this recipe, with its deep, warming sloe-ness. But you can choose any sloe gin you prefer – or even use your own if you have some home made sloe already in the house.

Mince pies recipe

Ingredients:

Mince pies
  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • 300g dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots etc.)
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 40z Sipsmith Sloe Gin
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp nutmeg
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 1 orange

For the pastry:

Mince pies
  • 350g flour
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Icing sugar (to dust)

Method:

Mince pies
  1. Heat the sloe gin and brown sugar in a saucepan, stirring until all sugar has dissolved
  2. Stir in the dried fruit, spices and grate ion the zest from the orange
  3. Add the cranberries and squeeze in the juice from the orange. Leave to stew for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove from heat and place to the side while you make your pastry
  5. Rub the flour and butter together in a bowl until it forms a crumbly mixture
  6. Add the sugar and egg and knead together into a dough
  7. Roll the pastry out and use a circle cookie cutter to cut dough circles to the right size for your muffin tins
  8. Squeeze the dough circles into your muffin tin and generously fill with mincemeat
  9. Top each pie with a pastry star, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the oven for 18 minutes at 220C
  10. Pour one glass of Sipsmith Sloe Gin for you. Pour another one for Santa. Sit back and hope you’re not on the naughty list.

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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