These trees are ‘green’ with no meat or suet in the mincemeat! And making them is really easy with homemade or shop-bought puff pastry, vegan or glutenfree if you like! I was prepared to suffer setbacks, a sad mess and raw pastry (that’s the worst thing) but no! They’re festive, cute and most importantly surprisingly delicious!! Those twisted puff pastry branches are crisp and packed with flavour. Hurray! An online food trend that does not disappoint. You can use shop-bought mincemeat but homemade’s absolutely delicious flavoured with Christmas spices and sweetened with pure maple syrup. It’s an amazing mix of chopped apple and pears, lemon and orange juice, dried cranberries, sour cherries, candied orange peel, sultanas and pecans. And rum! Made with just fruit and maple syrup, the homemade mandarin or clementine jam adds to the tangy citrus notes keeping these pastries from being too sweet but you could use a bitter orange marmalade instead. The savoury ham and cheese trees are also extremely addictive and there are plenty more possibilities like pesto or spinach and ricotta. You could have a whole forest of yummy trees! But now let’s celebrate with mincemeat and mandarin puff pastry Christmas trees! And cute mini pastries with the extras… 🙂
That was the first pastry tree I made and loved so much the next day I rounded up the remaining pastry, mincemeat and mandarin jam to make three more trees and rolled mini pastries. For … um… test purposes! Lol. It took around 15 minutes to fill and shape the trees and 20 minutes to bake. Not bad for a Sunday morning between proving and baking a brioche just before heading out to meet a friend for lunch. I handed her a tupperware container and said ‘I brought you a Christmas tree’! Always a nice thing to say. Later she let me know her tree was really yummy and she could taste the delicious mandarin jam in there too! Wouldn’t you like a nice little pastry tree?!
You could have a Nutella filling or pesto, goats’ cheese, spinach, pasta sauce…! I’ve made ham and cheese trees a few times with shop-bought and homemade spelt puff pastry and they were all amazingly delicious and addictive! They make a great aperitif or snack so instructions for making them are included below.
These puff pastry trees are inspired by an Instagram photo I saw and various nutella tree youtube videos. I thought instead of nutella I’d try a mincemeat filling lightened with citrus jam.
Vegan and glutenfree options
The jam’s naturally vegan and the small quantity of butter in the mincemeat can be replaced with vegan margarine. Both the jam and mincemeat are glutenfree. You can use vegan or glutenfree puff pastry, available in various supermarkets.
Mandarin or clementine compote jam
For more details and photos of the process please see the full recipe for Mandarin or clementine compote-like jam in my basics section.
- 450-500g/16-18oz fresh whole mandarins or clementines
- 80g/4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste (100g/5 tbsp for a sweeter jam), or honey/sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, sliced in half horizontally with the seeds scraped out and included
Note: Taste after 30 minutes to see if you’d like more maple syrup in the jam (but remember mincemeat’s quite sweet so it’s great if the jam’s a bit tart). Towards the end stir often so it doesn’t burn or stick.
The mandarin or clementine jam can be stored in airtight tupperware in the fridge up to 1 week or wrap tightly in plastic film and freeze up to 2 months.
So delicious I was eating spoonfuls of the stuff…
Just to answer the question ‘Why is it called mincemeat when it’s full of dried fruit?’ Well originally in the middle ages it did contain meat chopped very finely and even today many versions contain suet. Luckily for vegetarians and vegans (or people who don’t want meat in their fruit pies!) there are lots of commercial meatless mincemeats available.
Nowadays mincemeat is a traditional Christmas treat in many countries, often served in mince pies or mincemeat tarts decorated with stars and other seasonal shapes. So there you go, make some mincemeat trees to have your very own historical pastry and join the festive baking spree! So yummy…
- 190g/1 and 1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped apple (preferably with an interesting flavour like reinettes or coxes)
- 115g/1/4 cup + 3 tbsp peeled and finely chopped pear
- 175g/1/2 cup pure maple syrup (could add less like 135-155g/1/2 cup less 1 or 2 tablespoons), or sugar
- 100g/1/2 cup finely chopped orange peel
- 80g/1/2 cup dried sour cherries (or cranberries)
- 70g/1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 35g/1/4 cup sultanas
- 28g/2 tbsp unsalted butter or vegan butter/margarine
- zest and juice (20g/1 and 1/2 tbsp) of 1 lemon
- juice of half an orange (1/4 cup) – could add the zest too, optional
- 1/2 cinammon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) ground cinammon
- 1/4 tsp (1g) all spice (or Christmas spices)
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup dark rum or brandy, to taste
- 30g/1/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Note: after weighing chop the sour cherries, cranberries and sultanas a little so they’re a similar size to the other dried fruit.
If you’d like more details and photos for the process please go to my citrus mincemeat recipe in the basics section.
It can be stored in airtight tupperware in the fridge up to 2 weeks or wrap tightly in plastic film and freeze up to 4 months.
Puff pastry trees
To make around 4 trees and some little roll pastries. The trees are small-medium sized and I could easily eat one tree in a sitting (at least).
- 200-210g/7-7.5oz shop-bought puff pastry (preferably butter but optionally vegan or glutenfree) or homemade following my recipe for inverted puff pastry (optionally with spelt flour)
- Filling: mandarin jam and mincemeat (or any filling of your choice)
- 1/4 beaten egg
- preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (static, non-convection oven) or 180°C/350°F (fan-assisted)
- line a large baking tray with baking paper
The measurements work well for me but please make any size you like or 1 big tree. My system using the leftover triangles is great because you don’t roll the pastry out again and there’s no waste! Hurray!
- Roll out one square of 100g/3.5oz to make a rectangle about 15cm/6in high and 25cm/10in wide (the pastry should be quite thin – about 2mm/a little more than 1/16in).
- Tree 1: fold the rectangle over once then again and cut out the two trees, separating them carefully.
- Tree 2: use the four leftover triangles you cut off on each side to make a second tree and the extra pastry from the bottom to make the trunk (if you push the two separate triangles together for the bottom layer and keep the nicer triangle for the top it looks fine).
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the other 100g/3.5oz of pastry to make trees 3 and 4.
- Use the little bits of pastry left over from the bottom to make 1 or 2 rectangles.
- Spread a thin layer of mincemeat over all the pastry trees and rectangles (on the bottom layer), taking out big pieces of dried fruit.
- Spread a thin layer of the mandarin jam over the mincemeat – if it’s difficult to spread just press pieces of it into the mincemeat to mix it in and make one combined layer.
- Place the second layers of pastry trees on top.
- Roll the rectangles then slice with your knife to make rolls. Place on the baking tray and press down a little.
- If you haven’t already moved the trees to your lined baking sheet then do this now, moving them carefully.
- With a small sharp knife cut ‘branches’ into the trees, leaving a trunk in the middle.
- Starting with the bottom branch lift and twist towards you (pulling outward just a little) then carefully press down the end a little onto the baking tray. As you go higher only twist once on shorter branches.
- Brush the trees and rolls with beaten egg.
- Bake 18-25 minutes in the middle of the oven until golden brown.
- Leave on the baking tray 5 minutes then carefully move to a wire rack to cool.
- When cooler sprinkle with icing sugar (for sweet fillings).
Pinwheels and diamonds
To make other kinds of pastries like pinwheels and diamonds have a look at the instructions on my fruit puff pastries post.
Ham and cheese trees
Follow the instructions above but place 2 or 3 layers of ham on the bottom tree layer. Then sprinkle about 1/4 cup grated hard cheese (emmenthal, gruyère, cheddar, etc) on each tree. Bake for the same amount of time. When they come out the cheese makes them a little greasier so wait about 10 minute or more and they’ll be extra yummy! 🙂
Eating and storing
All the trees are delicious warm or eaten at room temperature the same day. Store till the next day in airtight glass jars or tupperware in the fridge and they’ll be softer but the flavours will be even more developped, yum! They’ve never made it to day 3 but I imagine they’d be fine then too. Or freeze tightly wrapped in plastic film then reheat briefly in the oven to refresh.
It’s that time of the year. Hurray! Even if you don’t celebrate it’s a merry old time. And is it just me that finds Christmas shopping dangerous? I ended up with a lovely shirt and fluffy onesie bear pyjama for myself today… oops!
I’m really happy to have found this easy but tasty tree invention online – I think it was on Instagram I first saw a nutella tree then on youtube I watched the videos. So I hope the idea comes in handy for you too. Could be a great festive treat!
Want to try an absolutely delicious mincemeat and mandarin puff pastry Christmas tree?
Farewell for now dear reader! Wishing you a lovely weekend ahead with some happy baking and eating, possibly with some festive stuff! 🙂 Lili x