Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
200 g (7oz) butter
150 g (5oz) caster sugar
200 g (7oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
175 g (6oz) ready-made mincemeat
4 egg yolks
1 tsp cornflour
50 g (2oz) caster sugar
25 ml (1fl oz) brandy or whiskey
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) double or regular cream
1/2 tsp finely grated nutmeg, plus extra for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4, and line the muffin tray with the paper cases.
Place all the mincemeat ingredients in a saucepan and set over a medium heat, allowing it to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until nearly all the liquid has gone. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds or just until mixed, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.
Beat in the cooled mincemeat, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently to combine. Divide between the muffin cases, filling each three-quarters full, then bake for 20–25 minutes or until well risen, deep golden on top and lightly springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool down completely. As the muffins cool, make the icing. Whisk together all the icing ingredients and place in a saucepan.
Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, then remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl or an electric food mixer.
Using a hand-held electric beater or the food mixer, whisk continuously for a few minutes until the mixture has cooled and become very thick. Spoon the icing onto the cooled muffins, and sprinkle with extra grated nutmeg for decoration.
For an even more festive touch, you could decorate the tops of the muffins with fondant holly leaves (see below), adding one or two to each cake, depending on the size of the leaves.