Mince Pie Madness: Your Secret Christmas Weapon

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Photo: My Own

Sound the stress alarm, Christmas is only one day away! But fear not readers, I have a Christmas Eve activity which is guaranteed to get you well and truly into the festive mood.

I have decided to impart the famous family mince pie recipe because I fancy myself a bit of a foodie this time of year (where are my Joey style Thanksgiving pants when I need them) and because whenever we offer these bad boys to friends and family they go crazy and descend into a mince pie coma of happiness. One is never enough!

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Photo: My Own

Each one is like a little amuse bouche, packed with BIG flavour punch. Extremely versatile, they work great for parties (simply add a dusting of icing sugar before serving) or curl up by the fire, a bowl of these beauties and some brandy cream and ‘Bob’s your uncle’. They also work well as a cheeky mid-morning pick me up with a cup of tea.

Isn’t Christmas all about spreading some cheer and eating naughty treats until you fear you may turn literally into a box of choccy biscuits overnight? Of course! Spread some mince pie cheer people and you shall be a popular human being. Embrace the naughtiness!

This recipe will make about 100 small mince pies, if you want to be slightly less greedy then half the recipe, but we never do.

Cooking weapons:

A large bowl

Pastry brush

Two mince pie tins (or as many as your oven can hold)

Small circle cutter (appropriate size for your tins)

Small star cutter

Mincemeat:

1kg of any shop bought mince meat

A slug of brandy (vary amount according to alcohol preference)

A pack of fresh cranberries

Pastry:

1 kg plain flour

Pinch of salt

375 g butter

375 g cookeen/lard (top tip: place in the freezer until hard to make the grating process easier)

How to cook:

180 degrees (or 170 with a fan oven) until golden brown – usually about 10-15 mins but keep an eye on them. Just keep checking – after all, mince pies come in all shapes and sizes.

Method:

Prepare your mincemeat in the morning (or the day before if you have more time) so that all the flavours can marinate together. Cook the cranberries on a low heat with a couple of tablespoons of water and stir until softened. Then in a mixing bowl, incorporate the cranberries into the mincemeat. This gives the mincemeat a lovely pink hue and reduces the sometimes cloying sweetness of a mince pie. Add the booze, pop in the fridge for a few hours and then it’ll be ready for action.

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Photo: My Own

Turning to the pastry now – sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, then grate all the fat into the flour. Mix with finger tips as you go (make sure there aren’t any large lumps), but be careful not to over-handle it as this toughens the pastry and makes it like cardboard. Not what you want! Add sufficient cold water (a little at a time) until it forms a ball. The mixture should be quite moist but not wet.

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Photo: My Own

Cut into four portions. Cling film each separate portion and put in the fridge to rest for at least one hour.

When you’re ready to go preheat your oven. Then lightly flour a clean surface and take a portion of your pastry. Use a large rolling pin and roll out to a thickness of approximately 3 or 4 mm. Be careful not to stretch the pastry (top tip: do not place too much pressure on the rolling pin and keep patting the sides in as you roll).

Now use a circular shaped cutter (we use a sherry glass!) to make the mince pie bases. Place in the small mince pie trays (any small Patty tins will do – we use flexible, non-stick trays on top of a hard baking tray, both of which you can get at almost any kitchenware shop).

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Photo: My Own

Add a small amount of mincemeat into each case (not too much or they bubble over and cause a mess).

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Photo: My Own

Then roll out the pastry you have left and cut out small star shapes using the cutter. Place a star on top of each pie.

Brush milk lightly over the top of all the mince pies then sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar on each (again not too much or it can cause the tops to burn).

You’re ready – place the tray in the oven! Watch them like a hawk (they burn quickly because of the sugar content).

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Photo: My Own

ALAKAZAM!! Mince Pies are ready for munchin!!!

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Photo: My Own

If anyone makes them, would love to hear how it all went!

J xx

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