It is day 13 of December which means we are on a delicious countdown to Christmas! Every day this month, we will share some of our most Christmassy and festive recipes like Eunice's Christmas mince pies!
A good pastry should be short (crumbly) and melt-in-the-mouth. When I'm making the pastry, I make sure that I will have no distractions, that I have good space cleared in the kitchen, and that both my mental state and my ingredients are cool and collected.
- 350g raisins
- 350g sultanas
- 100g currants
- 450g grated apple
- 150g brown sugar
- 175ml brandy
- 100g butter
- juice and rind of two lemons
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 50g chopped almonds
- 50g chopped walnuts
- 100g mixed peel
- 2 tbsps of marmalade
- 200g flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 125g very cold butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1tbsp ice-cold water
- ½tbsp lemon juice
Mince meat and almond slices
- 175g Plain Flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 75gButter Cold Water
- 75g Plain Flour
- 125g Butter
- 125g Caster Sugar
- 100g Ground Almonds
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tablespoons mince meat
- Flaked almonds to decorate
The size of the tartlets you make depends on the occasion, whether it’s a large Sunday lunch where a tartlet accompanied by a dollop of cream is the finale, or perhaps you are hosting a fork supper for 50 where a variety of bite-size tartlets would be an easier option for mingling guests.
I have based the following recipes on using shallow tartlet trays, 12 holes in each, the holes six and a half centimetres wide by two centimetres deep. If you would like to make tiny tartlets, using a mini muffin tray, make sure your pastry is thin; you want to leave room for the filling.
When making tarts, the quality of the pastry is of paramount importance. The good news is that if you respect the pastry-making process and stick to a few cardinal rules, you can achieve amazing results.
Pastry can be made a day or two in advance, all the tins can be lined and stacked in the fridge, and the tartlets can be finished off on the day they are required.
- Mix all ingredients together in a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes.
- This can be stored in a sterilised jars for up to a year.
- Many mincemeat recipes don't involve cooking, however, when it is cooked it makes it much more digestible, so no seasonal heartburn.
- You can, of course, substitute cranberries, diced glace cherries or diced ready-to-eat apricots for any of the dried fruit.
- I tend to use smaller raisins and sultanas in my mincemeat, especially if I want to make tiny mince pies. You would be surprised at how much room a jumbo sultana takes up.
- Sieve the flour and icing sugar together. Put the flour and sugar in a food processor and aerate it with a couple of quick on/off pulses.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the yolk and lemon juice and water if necessary and process until the pastry just comes together.
- Turn the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and knead it briefly to form a flat round. Wrap it in cling film and chill it for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- If you don’t have a food processor, work as lightly as possible using your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. When you add the liquid, pinch the whole thing to make it come together into a dough.
- Roll it out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry into rounds with a scone cutter a little larger than the cases. Line the tin with the pastry and refrigerate until needed.
- A 320g jar of mince meat should make a dozen mince pies. When making the pies, proceed with the pastry as described above, reserving a quarter of the pastry for the tops.
- Roll out the remaining pastry and cut with a star-shaped cutter to fit the tops. Put a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat into the pastry case, pop the pastry star on top, and bake at 160ºC/Gas 3, for 15-20 minutes.
- When they are cooked, allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, with a dollop of cream.
- This recipe will line two-hole tartlet trays. I use icing sugar as its fine starchiness makes for a smooth and more manageable pastry.
- This pastry can be made a few days in advance and stored until needed in the fridge.
Mince meat and almond slices
- Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Lightly grease an 11 x 7"/ 28x 18cm Swiss Roll tin.
- Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the margarine and add sufficient water to make a soft dough.
- Turn onto a lightly floured board, roll out and line the Swiss Roll tin. Cover and leave in the fridge while making the topping.
To make topping
- Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat.
- Remove from the heat and add the sugar, ground almonds and flour.
- Mix well, then beat in the eggs and almond essence. Leave to cool a little.
- Remove pastry from the fridge; spread mincemeat over the top of the pastry base.
- Pour the topping over the mincemeat
- Decorate with flaked almonds and bake for 35-40 mins. until pale golden in colour.
- When cool, cut into slices.