I can’t stop for long. This is a quick one as we’re decorating the sitting room. Yes! I know, how stupid do two adults have to be to decorate in the week before Christmas? Very, is the answer. Anyway, it’ll all look beautiful on the big day for the 10 people we are catering for. I of course will be crying from exhaustion and chipping pollyfilla from my nails. What can I say… I am not Deliciously Ella.
Which is also why I don’t have for you a sugar free mince pie recipe. Pah! I have for you instead a traditional mince pie full of sugar and booze and nuts and encased in sweet pastry that is the best behaved pastry I have ever worked with. It’s amazing stuff. Light and crisp and perfect for encasing mince pie filling as it doesn’t crumble away. It’s strong without being tough. Oh I do love it, almost as much as one of my children.
Scott Choucino took delightful mince pie photo. His work is here.
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available exclusively in Iceland stores and through their website) which is just £2.99 at the mo! And no, the recipes are not just about frozen food. Every recipe has instructions of how to make with chilled ingredients too.
Last December: Two minute marinade for chicken and Melted snowman biscuits and Egg nog truffles and Chocolate biscuit Christmas pudding and Drunken Amaretto mince pies and Cheese concertina loaf and Hot chocolate on a stick and Sausage, sage and squash lasagne and Chocolate hazelnut granola and Orange and cranberry loaf and Chocolate ganache tart.
Makes 12 with lids or 18 with star tops
- 250g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 50g icing sugar
- 125g cold butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, beaten
- about 450g mincemeat
- 100g flaked almonds
- 3 tbsp alcohol of your choice – amaretto, Baileys, brandy, whisky, cherry brandy… ooh cherry brandy.
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt)
- Icing sugar to dust
Make the pastry in the food processor by pulsing the flour and icing sugar together. Add the butter and pulse again until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg and pulse a few times until the pastry starts to form clumps. Do not keep processing until you have one mass or you will have overworked the pastry and it’ll be as tough as old boots. Use your hands to carefully scoop the pastry into a ball and then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. (Alternatively you can make by hand – simply mix the dry ingredients, rub in the butter with your fingertips until you have breadcrumbs, then add the egg and pull together with a blunt knife).
Prepare your filling by mixing together the mincemeat, booze and flaked almonds. Of course you could add whatever you fancy. Paul Hollywood likes adding fresh clementines to his mince pies, Nigella I seem to recall likes cranberries – just do as you wish. And if you happen to hate almonds then yes, you can use a substitute nut. Think about lightly toasting the nuts in a dry frying pan though as it imparts much better flavour.
Dredge your worksurface and rolling pin with flour and roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm – try not to use a see saw motion, instead roll away from yourself and then turn the pastry by 90 degrees with each turn. I have done a video of rolling pastry correctly (not for mince pies I hasten to add) here. Cut 12 circles using a 9cm cutter and push gently into the holes in the tin. Add a headed teaspoon of filling, then roll and repeat until the tin is full. Gently squeeze together the remnants of pastry and re roll to cut 12 lids fo the pastry using a slightly smaller cutter. Paint one side of each circle with egg wash and push down onto the open mince pies gently, to seal. Repeat until all the mince pies are assembled then paint the lids with more egg wash, being careful not to let it spill doen the sides of the pies or it will help solder the pastry to the tin. Use a sharp knife to cut two little openings about 1cm long into the lid.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 15 – 20 minutes though do check to ensure your pastry isn’t burning. They should be lightly browned when ready and the pies should ease out of the tin to be cooled on a wire rack. Whilst cooling, dredge with icing sugar. Use a small sieve if you have one though I am a fan of a tea infuser for this purpose.
A word of warning about filling spillage. If it does ooze over the sides of the pies then you must get the baked pies out of the tins ASAP. Do not let them cool – this involves risking mincemeat burn in the process, for boiling hot mincemeat does smart when it touches your fingertips. If you leave them to cool, they weld to the tin and have to be chipped out using DIY instruments. If this happens don’t cry (I have in years gone by), just crumble the remains all up in a dish and either eat or stir into slightly softened vanilla ice-cream. Then tell everyone on Christmas Day you made festive ice cream to go with the Christmas Pudding. Eat your heart out Nigella.
NB: You may have a few bits of pastry left. Discard as it’s be overworked and tough.
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