Festive mince pies

It’s early December and Christmas is officially approaching fast. The best thing about Christmas for me, has to be the mince pies! Well, obviously there’s the tree, decorations, spending time with family, presents etc etc, but let’s face it, the food is the only important thing really. I’m a big fan of Christmas; the ritual food customs that we repeat each year make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! But out of all of those customs, eating mince pie wins hands down!

I didn’t realise how much of a British thing mince pies were until moving to Barcelona, where no such thing exists! Tired of pinning my mince pie hopes on having visitors from the UK in December (they usually troop over during the warmer, summer months), I started to make my own.

Most mincemeat recipes use suet, but as this is not suitable for a vegetarian like me, so I make mine using butter. The butter gives the mincemeat a glossier look and a slightly richer flavour. It´s worth putting the effort in and making your own mince pies as they are so much nicer than shop bought ones anyway, and Christmas is only once a year after all!

Char´s tip: make sure the dried fruit you use it seedless, for a less gritty texture. Also any combination of dried fruits can be used, raising, sultanas, currants, dried cramberrys, even prunes!

Make the Shortcrust pastry the day before, and chill in the fridge overnight.

Mincemeat Ingredients:

350g sultanas

175g raisins

175g Moscatel raisins

200g brown sugar

100g butter, cubed

1 small apple, finely choppped

1 orange, zest only

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves, chopped

200ml dark rum or brandy

50g walnuts, chopped

fresh ginger, finely chopped

Mincemeat method:

Combine all the ingredients (except the alcohol) in a large saucepan and heat gently, simmering for 10 minutes.

Stir occasionally until the sugar grains and butter have melted.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the alcohol. I prefer rum, but you can use brandy or sherry if you prefer.

Spoon the mixture into a sterile jar and seal. This mincemeat was enough for about 50 mince pies. I wish I´d made more as I didn´t get a chance to eat many! Feel free to half the amounts if you don´t want to make so many.

Char’s tip: I like to make the mincemeat week or 2 in advance, to allow the fruit to macerate. But you can just use it straight away. Mincemeat stores well, so as long as you use sterilised jars, you can make it up to 6 months in advance.

Mince pies method:

Preheat the oven to 180º. Roll out the pastry until it´s around 3mm thick and use a 10cm cutter to cut out circles. Butter a muffin tray and press the pastry into the moulds, pricking with a fork. Blind bake the bases for 10 minutes.

Spoon in about a tablespoon of the mixture. Instead of fully closing the pies I like to leave them open, so I bought a snowflake shaped cutter.

Cut out the tops and place them on the mincemeat mixture. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little white sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, and voilà, ready to serve!

Pescetarian Pleasures wants to know, what is your favourite part of Christmas (food)? Is it the mulled wine, cranberry sauce, roast chestnuts, brussel sprouts….or something else?