Mince pies have to be one of my favourite foods of Christmas. I adore the warmth from the mixed spice and cinnamon traditionally coupled with brandy. I kid you not - there is little easier to make than these adorable mini mince pies. Of course, bigger ones are just as easy - but it doesn't give me the excuse to eat two of them !
In many years gone by, it was common place for mincemeat for these sweet meat pies to ACTUALLY contain ground meat. Some people still make them like that. However, this version does not.
The batch of mincemeat is very very simple to make. It gets better with age and will keep several months properly stored. I made a batch of 24 mini mince pies in my silicone bakeware mould and still had enough mincemeat to fill about 5 good sized jam jars (each of which will be enough for another batch of pies). Makes a lovely Christmas gift !
FOR THE PASTRY (makes 24 mini pies)
275g plain cake flour
110g salted butter (cold and GRATED)
100g icing sugar
1 large egg
zest of a lemon
Rub the grated butter into the flour and icing sugar, until the mixture resembles crumbs. I like to use cold grated butter as it incorporates easier when rubbing together. You want to work pastry as little as possible to keep is short and melt in the mouth.
Add the beaten egg. You may want to combine with a wooden spoon as it does get very sticky - but I get in there with my hands.
Once combined, wrap in clingfilm and shove in the fridge for at least 20mins. This is a VERY soft sweet pastry. I don't even bother rolling it.
When you are ready to use it, pinch pieces off . I've forgotten the exact weight now.. but am pretty sure I used 15 grams per ball.
I used a pastry tamper to form the shapes and then finished the tops with my fingers.
Now fill your mini pies with as much of the mincemeat as they will hold. It's not much - about 1 heaped teaspoon. After filling the ones below, I went back round them and packed a bit more in
MY SWEET MINCEMEAT RECIPE
650g of luxury mixed dried fruit
(mine consisted of raisins, currants, mixed peel, cherries, pineapple, apricot)
100g roughly chopped pecans
juice and zest of a lemon
400g medium diced bramley apples
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp mixed spice
250g Atora suet
100g caster sugar
250g dark brown soft sugar
175ml of apple brandy
175g plum liqueur
Basically, put all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir. Pop it in the fridge, and give it another stir every time you walk past over the next two days.
The dried fruits will swell as they absorb the alcohol and strangely enough, the apples are going to shrink. There will be some thick syrupy stuff in the bottom.
After 2 > 3 days, spoon into sterilised jars and seal with a lid. Make sure you split the syrupy liquid evenly between the jars Some people think mincemeat is best left to mature for 2 > 3 weeks before use - but I've found the results and flavour just as good after the first 2 > 3 days.
The pastry tops for my little pies are 6 or 7 gram balls f pastry simply squashed in the palm of my hand.
Put a tiny slit in the top of each one. Liberally douse with caster sugar and bake in a 180deg C fan / 200deg C electric oven for approx 15 mins until the tops are slightly golden.
Enjoy warm with a cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine.
These will store up to a week in an airtight container. Why not make and freeze an entire tray in one go ? Ideal to pull out the freezer and bake when unexpected visitors arrive. Silicone bakeware moulds are totally safe to go from freezer to oven !