50 g skinned hazelnuts (roughly chopped, optional)
2 good tblsp calvados
250 g plain flour
125 g butter (softened)
80 g caster sugar
1 large egg (whisked)
(little cold water)
In a large, heavy-bottomed pan heat the Muscavado and water until the sugar ‘melts’ and starts to bubble.
Carefully slide the diced apple into the hot, molten sugar being careful not to splash yourself!
Stir with a metal spoon until the apple pieces are evenly coated and have softened slightly. This will only take a couple of minutes.
Again, being very careful not to cause too much splashing, pour the cider into the pan, stirring all the time you’re pouring. It’ll sizzle and spit….mind the steam.
Next, slide in the dried fruit, grated apple, Mixed spice blend, vanilla pod and its beans and the black pepper.
Simmer until the fruits have turned slightly pulpy and most of the liquid has evaporated. This should take about 15minutes.
Take off the heat, remove the vanilla pod, allow to cool slightly, then stir in the lemon zest, orange zest, hazlenuts and Calvados.
You could then pack this delicious, warming, beautifully spiced mincemeat into sterilised jars and store in the fridge until required. It’ll keep for 4 months, but once you’ve opened a jar it’s best to use it within a week.
In a food processor, put the flour, butter and sugar, set to medium and blitz for a moment.
Add the whisked egg a little at a time, through the processor’s ‘funnel, just until the mixture comes together. You may not need to add all the egg, but if the mixture hasn’t come together after adding all the egg, drizzle in a little water until you get the desired soft dough ‘ball’.
Take the pastry out of the food processor’s bowl, wrap in cling-film and allow to rest in your fridge for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, lightly butter the ‘dips’ of a mince-pie tray, grab a circular pastry cutter with a diameter about 2cm wider than the dips of the tray and find a star and a heart shaped pastry cutter, or another round cutter with diameter about the size of 2Euro coin. Set your oven to 180°C.
Take the dough ball out of the fridge. Pop onto a clean, cool worktop, flour the worktop surface and your rolling pin. Gently roll out the pastry. Roll it out to a thin, sort of 1cm thickness.
Stamp out the pastry with the round cutter and gently press into the ‘dips’ of the mince-pie tray. Spoon a good dollop of your mincemeat onto the pastry.
Cut out stars and hearts and pop on top of the mincemeat.
Once, you’ve filled each dip, pop the tray into the oven for about 20minutes, or until the pastry is cooked and light brown.
Take out the oven, allow to cool slightly before gently prising out with a pastry knife, popping onto a cooling rack and lightly dusting with icing sugar.