Wednesday, 25 November 2009
When I was growing up in Canada, one of the things I really disliked at Christmas time was . . . Mincemeat. Oh, but it was horrid. That probably has something to do with the fact that it had real meat in it . . . ground beef . . . and ground beef made me want to gag. Mixed with raisins and other fruits, it made me want to gag even more . . .
Combine that with the interesting fact that my Aunt used to make her mincemeat out of venison that my Uncle shot every year, and I could never trust whether the mincemeat my mother was using had come from my Aunt or not . . . and I just could not face eating Bambi . . .
Aside from all that . . . it just didn't taste good to me . . . not at all. Never, no never . . .
Oh, how very different mincemeat is over here in the UK. I just love it and I can't get enough of it any time of the year, but MOST especially during the Christmas Season!!!
Filled with lovely bits of bramley apple . . . raisins . . . currants . . . sultanas . . . candied peel . . . not to mention lovely warm spices and oranges and lemons, chopped almonds . . . all bound together with soft dark brown sugar, brandy and suet . . . Just the thought of it gets my taste buds tingling.
I love them cold . . . all buttery and spicy sweet in my mouth.
They are a special treat when gently warmed . . . all meltingly delicious and crumbly, with lashings of brandy cream or custard . . . mmm . . .
I usually make my own, using Delia's Foolproof Recipe, but the grocery shops are full of wonderful mincemeat as well. Marks and Spencers make a really yummy luxury version.
There is nothing like spending an afternoon with a cd of Christmas Carols creating the festive mood whilst you bake lovely mince pies . . . the smell of them baking so homey and warm, the music . . . just so soul enriching . . . the cold wind outside buffeting the windows as the rain lashes against the glass . . . me all tucked up warm and cosy in the kitchen, my slippers padding across the floor and Jess stretched out and softly snoring on the carpet in front of the AGA . . .
Ahh . . . this has to be bliss. Can there be anything else on earth so wonderful??? I think not!
Well . . . eating them comes a close second, I do have to admit!
Makes about 24
I just adore these delicious Christmas Treats! Crisp and buttery pastry encasing a delicious filling of spiced fruits, and dusted with icing sugar. Oh, so very wonderful. It just would not be Christmas without a breadbox filled with these!
(either homemade or storebought)
pinch of salt
75g of cold butter, cut into bits
75g cold lard, cut into bits
ice water as needed
For the finish
some milk for brushing
sifted icing sugar for dusting
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Drop in the butter and lard and rub it into the flour/salt mixture using your fingertips. Rub until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the ice water by the tablespoon, mixing in with a fork, until you get a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator to rest for half an hour.
Roll half of the dough out 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut it into 24 rounds with a 3 inch fluted pastry cutter. Place them into two lightly greased patty tins, lining the holes. Spoon a dessertspoon of mincemeat into each. Roll out the other half of the dough in the same manner, and cut out 24 rounds iwth a 2 1/2 inch cutter. Brush the edges of these rounds with a bit of water and then place them on top of the mincmeat filled patty tins to form lids. Press around lightly to seal. Brush the tops with a bit of milk. Prick with a fork if desired. Place on the top rack in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
Remove from the oven and cool completely before disting with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.