Christmas is coming! 🌟🎅🤶🎄🎁
Mince pies are muffin-size pies filled with a delicious mixture of liqueur soaked fruit and topped with a pastry lid. They are one of the traditional English Christmas treats that have been adopted in various countries. In Malta, you can find them in all supermarkets and you can also find jars of ready made mincemeat filling to make your own mince pies at home.
For the past years, I have made my own mince pies from scratch. I start thinking about them as early as October, buying all the ingredients to prepare my own ‘mincemeat’. Simple ingredients go into it like apples, sultanas, raisins, mixed candied peels and oranges. They are then spiced with cinnamon and cloves. The secret to very good mincemeat however is time… the longer you let it sit, the richer, more intense and tastier it will get! 🙂
Traditionally the mincemeat was made with animal suet. However, the recipe below eliminates that and there is no cooking involved. You just need to mix all ingredients together. There is no added sugar to the filling and therefore you have to be careful to balance the sweetness of the fruit with the tartness from the apples and citrus fruits.
Mince pies can be served warm or at room temperature. They are great as dessert served warm, with a dusting of icing sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Otherwise they can be served as is accompanied by a warm cup of tea.
If you have never tried mince pies before, this is your chance. There is still time to make your own batch of mincemeat in time for Christmas! 🙂
Homemade Christmas Mince Pies
Festive, rich, intense flavours of alcohol soaked fruits packed in a mini pie
- For the mincemeat:
- 2 large apples, peeled cored and finely diced
- 100g raisins
- 100g blackcurrants
- 100g golden sultanas
- 1 lemon, rind and juice
- 1 orange, rind and juice
- 50g mixed candied peel
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 shots of liquor (brandy, dark rum, vermouth…) For the pastry:
- 500g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 125g unsalted butter, cold
- 125g margarine, cold
- 200g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, rind
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice/water
- For the filling: In a large mixing bowl, combined all ingredients together.
- Pack in sterilised jars. Make sure that the fruit is submerged in the liquid. Add more freshly squeezed orange juice if necessary. Leave an inch from the top as the fruit will plump up as it absorbs the liquid.
- Place in a cool place or in the refrigerator and make sure to shake the jars every 2 days to ensure that the liquid also reached the fruit at the bottom of the jar. Let it sit for at least one week prior to using it. (See note below*)
- For the pastry: In a stand mixer, beat the sugar, butter and margarine together until pale. Add the vanilla extract, lemon rind and salt.
- Gradually, add the flour and baking powder until just combined.
- Remove from the mixer and bring the pastry together using your hands. You might want to add 1-2 tablespoon of liquid. Form into a ball, place it in a bowl, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Prepare your muffin tin.
- Roll out the pastry to 0.5cm thickness and cut out round shapes to form the base of the mince pies. Cut out smaller round or star shapes to form the top of the mince pies.
- Place the bigger round shapes of the pastry into the muffin tins. Fill 2/3 of each muffin hole with the mincemeat filling and place the pastry lid on top. Lightly brush the tops with some milk.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until golden on top.
- Let them cool slightly in the muffin tins before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. (See note below**)
- Serve them warm with a scoop of ice-cream or with a cup of tea.
- The mincemeat will keep for a long time in the fridge. I have once kept mine in the fridge for 2 years and the flavour only intensified. Always make sure to use a clean spoon when taking out the required amount of mincemeat.
- After cooling completely, you can place them on a tray and freeze them. When ready to use, slightly thaw them and warm them up before serving.