A couple of weeks ago my lovely friend Gazala presented me with a jar of homemade mincemeat, for no good reason whatsoever. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?! She’d used a Mary Berry recipe, with butter rather than suet and a few luxury ingredients such as cranberries and almonds. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Opulent, homemade mincemeat like this deserved to be made into some extra special mince pies. I was flicking through my cookbooks when I spotted just the thing in Richard Bertinet’s Pastry book. What could be more perfect than frangipane mince pies? Something different but undoubtedly delicious.
I could not have been more delighted with the results. Having made some dreadful mince pies last year, I was a little nervous but these were awesome. In fact, those who sampled them all agreed they were the best mince pies they’d eaten all year!
To make these from scratch there is quite a lot to do but it’s worth it. If you are pushed for time you could always cheat with the mincemeat or the pastry. Alternatively, you can make each stage on a separate day, the mincemeat can be stored for months and the pastry is best if left to rest in the fridge overnight.
Stage 1 – mincemeat
To make 4 large jars you will need:
- 175g currants
- 175g raisins
- 175g sultanas
- 175g dried cranberries
- 100g mixed peel
- 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 125g butter, cut into cubes
- 50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
- 200ml brandy
Just mix all of the ingredients together, except the bandy, in a large pan and heat gently for 10 minutes so that the butter melts and combines. Then allow to cool and add the brandy.
Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars and store in a cool place for up to 6 months.
Stage 2 – pastry
To make 36 mince pies you will need:
- 350g flour
- 125g butter
- 125g sugar
- 2 eggs plus 1 yolk
- pinch of salt
First rub your cold butter into the flour until you have shards of butter the size of your little fingernail. When you get to this stage, mix the sugar in evenly then tip in the eggs and combine with a spoon or plastic scraper. Once it has started to come together turn out onto the work surface and fold the dough on top of itself, then turn and repeat. Keep doing this until it feels homogeneous like plasticine. Then wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and rest for at least an hour but preferably overnight.
Stage 3 – the frangipane
For one batch you will need:
- 250g unsalted butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 250g ground almonds
- 3 eggs
- 50g flour
- 2tbsp rum
Use a mixer to beat the butter until very soft, then add the sugar and ground almonds whilst the mixer is running. Next mix in the flour and then the eggs. When this is all combined add the rum. Easy!
Transfer to a piping bag and pop in the fridge for 15 minutes to set a little.
Stage 4 – the mince pies
When you are ready to make the mince pies, lightly grease three 12-hole tins and roll out the pastry until it is 2-3mm thick. Using a round cutter, just larger than the holes in the tin, cut out circles of pastry and line the tin.
Half fill each pastry case with mincemeat and pipe about a heaped teaspoon of frangipane on top of each one. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
The best thing about these is that you can make them in advance and freeze them. When you are ready to eat them defrost and pop them in the oven at 170’C/Gas mark 3 for 6-7 minutes to crisp up the pastry.
With a couple of these in the freezer there’s really is no excuse for failing to offer your guests a warm mince pie when they visit at Christmas!