Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Mince Pie Time!

It’s time to eat mince pies. I’m not sure why I’ve waited so long to begin the mince pie making frenzy and I am going to have to eat many, many, many of them to make up for lost time. Oh shame.

So I made 24 mini mince pies last night. There are 4 left, 2 of which I’ve hidden for later. I haven’t eaten them all myself I hasten to add! I had a little help from George, Billy and Flo. Honest. But they are very good.

The main part of the Christmassy goodness of a fabulous mince pie is obviously the mincemeat, the recipe for which you can find in my November recipes. And now that I’ve eaten a fair few of them I do believe that I am qualified to say – it is a great mincemeat recipe. Actually, it’s the best.

Now a little mince pie trick I have found to lure people who have otherwise not been too fussed about them, is to reduce them in size. Simple. If you make mini mince pies, then they become a delectable little mouthful of bursting fruit and nut flavour. People seem more willing to commit to a mini mince pie and then after a little break, guaranteed they’ll be back for more.

Also, less pastry. Replace the pastry topping for a good nutty crumble and fall in love with mince pies all over again!

I do not say this lightly. I promise these are fantastically festive and tasty treats. Easy and fun to make and everybody loves them.

My confession here is that I bought the pastry. Yep, I was pressed for time and French, shop-bought, sweet shortcrust is pretty good. Maybe at the weekend I’ll do it properly and make my own pastry but on a Monday night, really the nights are so short! However as homemade is always best I’ll include the recipe for you.

I will make some with filo pastry too. Now those really are a treat, especially warm for desert with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of hot white chocolate sauce…

So for 24 mini mince pies you will need;

1 large jar of mincemeat

1 pack of ready-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry or;
225g/8oz plain flour
110g/4oz cold butter
80g/3oz sugar
1 egg yolk

For the crumble;
25g/1oz wholemeal flour
25g/1oz porridge oats
25g/1oz shelled walnuts
A good handful of flaked almonds
35g/1 ½ oz butter
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice


  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5, 190ºC, 375ºF, 170º fan oven

  • If you are making the pastry yourself then put the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and pulse until you have a breadcrumb texture. Then put in the egg yolk and pulse again until you have a nice yellow dough. If it is too dry to form a dough then put in some milk a teaspoon at a time until a dough forms. Chill in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm until ready to use.

  • Whilst the pastry is chilling (or before you open the packet), you can make the crumble mixture. It is tempting to make a lot of it, which is no bad thing because any remaining crumble can go in the freezer for the next batch. But you don’t need a huge amount for this recipe so don’t worry about the measurements I’ve given.

  • Put the wholemeal flour, oats, sugar, spices and walnut halves in a food processor. Add the butter, cut into smallish pieces. Then pulse the blender until you have a breadcrumb texture. It will look quite buttery but that’s fine. Then give the flaked almonds a bit of a scrunch and add those too, stirring them into the crumble. If you don’t have a food processor then rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs and stir in all the other ingredients. You will need to chop the walnuts up a bit with a knife and scrunch the almonds up as before. Pop the crumble mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

  • So roll out the pastry and with a cutter or knife cut out circles to fit the mini patty tin. I got hold of some silicone ones which were dead cheap and work a treat. Line all the holes with the pastry nice and gently making sure you don’t stretch the pastry.

  • Once all the holes have been lined with pastry, use a teaspoon to fill them with the mincemeat. You can be fairly generous here, a nice little mound to make a good mouthful.

  • Top the mincemeat with generous spoonfuls of the crumble mix and then pop into the oven, on the middle shelf for 20 minutes until nice and golden.

  • Leave to cool in their tins until cool enough to handle then transfer to a cooling rack. Once they have cooled you can dust them with icing sugar and start on the mulled wine.

Delicious. The filo versions make a great alternative to the pastry too. I’ll make some this weekend and take some photos for you. They look very pretty as a Christmas canapé or after dinner treat.

I’ve been making pop-corn wreaths for the tree. It’s fun I have to admit though hard not to eat as much as I’m sewing. They get the glitter spray treatment tomorrow and I’m quite excited as to how they’re going to look. Might want to stop eating them at the glitter stage I guess. And it might seem a bit early but I’m putting the crew Christmas tree up this week. I think I could be more excited by it then the guys but that could mean I get to decorate the tree myself. Good news to a Christmas tree perfectionist.

Thanks for reading!