Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Is the humble mince pie the new cupcake?

This year the humble mince pie seems to be following the cupcake, every food magazine seems to be looking at ways to bring it up to date. Given the current economic climate and associated austerity measures is it any wonder that people are turning their back on the €10 cupcakes for BYO (bake you own). The problem with mince pies is that up until now they have been a bit like Marks and Spencers 100% cotton knickers, very comforting but not very sexy.

Welcome to Christmas 2010 and the mince pie has had a make over. One of this seasons favorites is the meringue topped mince pie which has featured in several magazines. I tried Brenda Costigan's (Irish Independent) recipe which more or less follows the same recipe as in my previous blog on mince pies except you bake the filled pastry case without a lid a first time and then bake it a second time topped with a meringue on a very low heat a seond time until the meringue is cooked.

The BBC Good Food Festive Collection 2010 probably has one of the most extensive collection of mince pie recipes. Although the season's favorite meringue version is missing there are many other variations on a theme from buttery mince pies, mincemeat custard pies, tipsy mince pie puffs, twinkle star mince pies, mincemeat croissants to chunky mince pie slices (featured here in photo straight out of oven and prior to being sliced).

The chunky mince pie slices are easy to make and could even be eaten for a festive breakfast. Ground almonds are sprinkled over a sheet of rolled out puff pastry which is on a greased baking sheet. Pecan nuts, dried cranberries, flaked almonds and an apple are all added to the mince meat mixture which is then spread on the puff pastry. Star shapes can be cut from any remaining pastry to top the mince meat to define portion slices. The stars are then egg washed before you put the whole thing in the oven to bake for 15 minutes at 220°c. Once cooled you can drizzle over some lemon icing.

Having tried several other mince pie recipes in addition the above, I realised that I am not a fashion victim. At the end of the day the pie that suits me best is the classical one: a rich shortbread pastry shell filled with luxurious mince meat & whiskey, served warm topped with a whiskey cream. There is good reason why a classic sees us through many seasons.

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