One of the things I love most about Christmas are Mince Pies! Christmas and Mince Pies go together just like peas and carrots. You just can't have one without the other.
Mince pies are another one of those things that people either love or hate . . . kinda like fruit cake. In this house we both happen to be lovers of both!
Just one bite of a well made mince pie brings to my mind a host of sugared Christmas memories . . . and even though we do go through a fair amount of shop bought mince pies every year (Aldi's are the best) I always like to put some Christmas music on the stereo and spend an afternoon making a batch of my own.
You can buy very good already prepared mincemeat in jars of course. There really are some lovely versions out there. (Marks and Spencer's come to mind!) Or you can be really industrious and make your own! It's not all that hard and is quite, quite delicious! I sometimes add chopped glace cherries and or dried cranberries to mine as well, depending on what kind of mood I am in.
Todd just can't get enough of them. (I confess . . . neither can I!!)
*Open Mince Pies*
Makes 2 to 3 dozen
These pies have a lovely flakey pastry that is made entirely in the food processor. You can use your own homemade mincemeat, or purchased. I have given the homemade recipe below. It's the best!
For the Pastry:
450g of plain flour (3 1/2 cups)
250g of unsalted butter (1.1 cups)
the finely grated zest of one lemon
150g of icing sugar, sifted (2/3 cup)
2 small free range egg yolks
1 quantity of mincemeat (see recipe below)
Icing sugar for dusting
To make the pastry, place the flour and butter into a food processor. Give it a quick blitz at high speed to reduce it to a crumb like consistency. Add the lemon zest and the icing sugar and give it another quick blitz. Add the egg yolks and enough milk to bring the dough together while the motor is running. Place into a zip lock bag and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Working with 1/2 of the pastry at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured board to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a fluted round pastry cutter, cut into rounds to fit into nonstick bun tins.. (shallow tart tins) Place in the tins and fill with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat. Roll the trimming out and cut into star shapes or Christmas trees slightly smaller than the diameter of each pie. Place in the centre of each, on top of the mincemeat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is a pale gold. Leave to cool before slipping out of the tins. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold. To reheat, place into a 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3 oven for five minutes. Store in a tightly covered container. These can be quite successfully frozen.
Makes approximately 1 pound
(enough for approximately 3 dozen mince pies)
A delicious blend of dried fruit, nuts, spices, brown sugar and brandy. (I use apple juice)
150g of currants(1 cup)
125g of raisins (3/4 cup packed)
25g of blanched almonds, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
1 knob of preserved stem ginger, finely chopped
1 eating apple, peeled and grated
50g of shredded beef or vegetable suet (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
the finely grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 TBs brandy
1 TBS dark muscovado sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside for at least 12 hours to macerate.