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. READ MORE
Look away now if you don’t like marzipan. Please, just go somewhere else. I have plenty of other recipes on this site to peruse.
Now marzipan is polarising, like Marmite, letting children play with toy guns or indeed taking the last good Roses chocolate. These mini mince pies (using this tin before everyone starts to message me asking which tin I like best. I am learning guys, I really am, albeit slowly) have a double dose of flaked almonds and Amaretto in the mincemeat and a marzipan star on the top. They’re an almond lovers dream. Teeny triple almond injections. I adore them. I hope you do too. Of course you can make them in a larger holed tin if you like.
FYI: Eat within 3 days or you’ll be pleased to hear these freeze well. Open freeze for 2 hours then store in freezer bags. Defrost at room temperature for 2 hours or pop straight back into the tin and warm at 140C/gas mark 3 until warmed through. Serve warm with mulled wine. Or cold with prosecco. Or just with tea.
Amaretto mini mince pies
Makes 36 minis or 24 regular size
Make the pastry in the food processor by pulsing the flour, icing sugar and cinnamon 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 and are still reading (why? why?!) then yes you can use another type of booze, a substitute nut and nothing on the top.
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 circles using a 7cm cutter (9cm for regular sized mince pies) and push gently into the holes in the tin. Add a headed teaspoon of filling, then roll and repeat until the tin is full. Any remnants of pastry collect for the next batch (though these won’t be as tender due to re-rolling – save these for people you love a little less) and wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge.
Roll the marzipan as you did the pastry, using icing sugar instead of flour to stop is sticking. Use a small star cutter about 3cm across (like this one) to cut a star to top each pie. 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 Nigella.
After the first 24 are made, you’ll need to wash your tin, let it cool (don’t put pastry into a warm tin) and start the whole process again to make 12 more little pies. Or you could buy two tins.
NB: You may have a few bits of pastry left. Discard. Thrice rolled pastry is not a wonderful thing.
There’s so much said about mince pies, with most of the focus on the filling. Well, I’m going to have to confess that for me it’s all about the pastry. I care not for wafer thin pastry, sodden from huge dollops of mincemeat. No siree! I want thick shortbread sweet pastry wrapped around a smidgen of mincemeat. I even add a jewel of a glacé cherry before I crown with more pastry in the form of a thick lid. This recipe is an oldie but a goodie with just a hint of reinvention.
One year ago: Hot chocolate on a stick
Two years ago: Caramel, nutmeg and brandied raisin ice-cream
Shortbread pastry mince pies with bejewelled filling
Makes about 12
Pop the oven onto 180C/Gas 4 and find a non stick tin – I use a Nordic Ware one but please don’t use anything you’re not sure of. This pastry has a habit of sticking into less reliable pans.
Take the butter, sugar, spice and flour and blitz in a food processor until combined – takes about 1 minute or you can rub in by hand instead if you wish. You should end up with a ball of dough. (Don’t add any liquid, if it’s not coming together use your hands to help it along.)
Take the dough and inspect to make sure all the ingredients are combined. If not, give it a brief knead with your hands. Then break off a ball of dough about the size of a ping pong ball. Squash it and work into a disc shape with your hands then line each tart tin hole with the disc, pushing carefully into the corners. If it breaks patch it up with more pastry. These are not dainty pretty mince pies so worry not about a haphazard appearance.
Fill the pastry bottom with 2 teaspoons of mincemeat and a glacé cherry, then take a slighter smaller ball of pastry and fashion into a disc for the lid. Press onto the top of the filled mince pie and squeeze the edges together until the little pie is airtight. The pastry is best when about half a centimetre thick all over – if that helps the description at all.
Continue until all the pastry is used up, then pop in the oven for 15-ish mins. Once lightly browned let them cool in the tin then gingerly move to a wire rack until the filling has completely cooled. Dust with icing sugar and then watch them disappear. I can highly recommend these for breakfast too. Especially before braving the Christmas shops. Oh and I wanted to share what’s happened to our Christmas tree. It got decorated by two Spiderman mad boys. Happy days.
These mince pies are inspired by my friend Helen’s mother-in-law, who tops her mince pies with Viennese biscuit dough. They are divine! I thought I’d remove the need for a piping bag and add some heavenly Christmas flavours of orange, nutmeg and cinnamon to make these truly special. Don’t forget you can add your favourite tipple to the mincemeat. Brandy is traditional but Amaretto, ginger wine and even Baileys are all delicious. Makes 24.
– 250g plain flour
– 50g icing sugar
– 125g room temperature butter
– zest of one orange
– 1 large egg
– 411g jar of mincemeat
– 15mls of your favourite tipple (optional)
– 120g soft butter
– 30g icing sugar
– 100g plain flour
– 20g cornflour
– Pinch of cinnamon
– Grating of fresh nutmeg
Pop the flour and icing sugar into your stand mixer and give it a quick mix with the flatbeater. Add the butter and orange zest and mix until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. (Can obviously rub in with hands too.)
Add the egg, mix in short spurts until the pastry dough comes together into a lump. (Use a blunt knife for this stage if making pastry by hand.) Cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In the meantime mix the alcohol and the mincemeat in a bowl and make the biscuit dough. Here’s a pic of my little helper. Gratuitous shot of blond toddler alert:
To make the dough mix the very soft butter with the icing sugar in your mixer with the flat beater. Mix until really light and fluffy – about 4 minutes. Then add all of the other biscuit dough ingredients and mix again until combined and fluffy.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop in the fridge. (You can make the biscuit dough with a wooden spoon and sheer willpower if you prefer.)
Roll the pastry onto a floured work surface to about 3mm thick and cut rounds out using a pastry cutter. Pop into your non-stick bun tray then place a teaspoon of the mincemeat into each pastry case.
Roll the biscuit dough to about 1cm thick on a floured surface and cut triangles using a sharp knife. (You can use a mini star cutter or other festive shaped cutter if you have one handy…) If the knife sticks dip in flour between cuts.
Then place on top of the mincemeat and pop the whole tray in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for about 15 – 20 minutes until just starting to brown at the edges.
Eat within 3 days or freeze and use within a month. Defrost at room temperature.