Sunday, 5 December 2010

mince pies and all things nice

I love Christmas and the current cold spell calls for Christmas cheer a little bit earlier than usual. I pestered the other half this morning until he finally relented to the nagging and went out and bought a Christmas tree. I spent the morning decorating the tree and was determined to keep the Christmas theme going through to lunch time, with mince pies and a whiskey cream for an after lunch treat.

Having made the mistake last year of trying to buy mincemeat in France, I made my own a few weeks ago. I used the Ballmaloe recipe but replaced the suet with butter for a vegetarian version. Home made mincemeat needs at least a good three weeks to mature, if you haven't made it by now you better get started (or just pick up a jar of someone elses at a local Christmas market, but it also keeps for up to a year. For the mincemeat you need 2 large cooking apples which have been baked in the oven until soft, remove skins and mash flesh. The rind a juice of two lemons (untreated), 110g mixed peel, 225g each of currants and sultanas, 450g of raisins, 900g of dark brown sugar, 62ml of Irish whiskey, 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade and 450g of butter (melted). Couldn't be easier - in a large bowl add ingredients one by one stirring well after each addition. Put in jars, cover and leave to mature.

To make the mince pies: First heat the oven to 170°c. Next prepare the pastry and ok, here I cheated, having decided at the last minute to make mince pies for desert, I lacked both energy and ingredients to make a pastry so headed out to Picard (chain of up market frozen food stores in France) to buy a ready made one. If you are buying ready made pastry check that it is pure butter and does not have palm oil.

The pastry I bought was already rolled out, so all I had to do was cut out the shapes with a floured pastry cutter (or glass if you do not have pastry cutter) to make the pastry cases. Then repeat to make lids or if you prefer cut out some star shapes in the pastry.

I buttered well the bun tray before putting the pastry in but had a problem getting some of them out once they had been cooked. When I said this to my mam, she gave me a simple solution - line each hole in the bun tray with a small round of grease proof paper! I will be following this advice next time.

Fill each pastry case with mincemeat and top with either a lid or a star. If you top with a lid make sure to prick the pastry with a fork. Brush each pie with a little beaten egg. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until a pale golden colour before carefully removing from tin and leaving to cool on a wire rack.

Delicious served with some whipped cream spiked with a little bit of Irish whiskey!

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