Enhanced with marzipan, orange & spice these home made mince pies are an incredibly delicious traditional treat.
When we were children, mum made homemade mince pies every Christmas. We loved them as a family. Though did you know Santa loves them too?! My brother and I would leave a homemade mince pie, glass of milk and a carrot on the dining table every Christmas Eve so that Santa and Rudolph could re-charge their batteries, though somehow we never left anything out for Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen, oops! Come Christmas morning the mince pie, milk and carrot were gone. The plate and glass had even been washed up and placed back into the cupboard! How Santa found the time to do that on his busiest night of the year I have no idea :-)
Christmas simply isn't Christmas without a good ol' mince pie or two (or perhaps even three!) I love mince pies, especially home made ones. Sadly, or perhaps happily, Mr E doesn't share that love with me, all the more for me then ;-) Though that does mean a few more exercises are required in the new year :-( Mum always made oodles of mince pies when we were young, freezing many of them to see us through the festive period but keeping a generous number of them in the cupboard for us to graze upon. I'll parcel-up some of the bake for my parents so that they too can enjoy a few home made sweet mince pies with marzipan and help me avoid those extra exercises!
Just a few days ago I made our first batch of mince pies of the season. The buttery sweet pastry was quickly made and popped into the fridge to rest, though of course do feel free to use a shop bought pastry if you prefer. I decided to use quite a large biscuit cutter to shape the bases of the pies, simply to ensure the pastry came to the top of the patty mould and thus making it easier to firm the lid to the base. Many bakers use pretty shapes of pastry (such as stars, snowflakes etc) to adorn the top of their mince pies, but I decided to make a full lid for the vast majority of my pies and nip it to the base to secure it, just how Mum used to do it. For a few of them I made a simple lattice top to add a little interest.
Rather than make my own sweet mincemeat I happily bought a jar from a local supermarket, after all most are pretty good quality. This said, I added a few extra bits to the mixture to personalise it and add a little more flavour. I adore marzipan so a generous quantity was added, and knowing that orange works so well with marzipan I added the zest and a little juice of one. I also added some chopped apricot and a little extra spice! The mixture was delicious, and certainly worth the extra 5 minutes. It was full of seasonal flavour and lightly aromatic, and the occasional hit of almond when you bit into a marzipan chunk was fabulous. The best bit if you ask me!
Will you be leaving anything out for Santa and his reindeers?
So, let's get to it and bake!
Christmas Mince Pies with Marzipan Yum
Time: 20 minutes hands on; about 20 minutes bake time; plus resting time and cooling time
You will need:1 x 12 hole Patty Tin
2 x Bowl
Pallet Knife (or similar)
Biscuit Cutters (88mm & 68mm)
For the Sweet Pasty250g Plain Flour
125g Unsalted Butter, chilled & diced
45g Icing Sugar
2 medium Eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 tbsp. (approx.) cold Water
For the Sweet Mincemeat Filling411g jar Sweet Mincemeat (I used this one from Sainsburys)
1 Orange, Zest of
20g Dried Apricots, chopped
60g Marzipan (either white or golden), finely chopped
pinch Ground Cinnamon
pinch Ground Nutmeg
2 - 3 tsp Orange Juice (or Brandy or Rum if you prefer)
To Finish the TartsMilk
Serving SuggestionDouble Cream or Brandy Butter
How to make them:1. Add to the sweet mincemeat filling. Tip the jarred sweet mincemeat into a bowl and give it a little stir. Add the orange zest, chopped apricots, chopped marzipan, and spice. Stir thoroughly. Add a little orange juice (or brandy or rum if you prefer) to bring the mixture back to the same thickness it was prior to adding the extra ingredients. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for a few hours (ideally overnight) to allow the extra flavours to meld together.
2. Make the pastry. Have a look at my Guide to making pastry if you need a few further tips. Place the flour, salt, icing sugar and cubed chilled butter into a good sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour between your thumb and finger tips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the breadcrumbs and add the beaten eggs. Using a rounded pallet knife, or similar, cut through the mixture to make a dough. You may need to add a little cold water to fully bring the mixture together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough for 10 seconds. Shape the pastry into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge for 30 minutes to rest and chill.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 200c / 180 fan / Gas 6.
4. Line the patty tin. Remove the pastry from the fridge and unwrap. Cut the pastry in half. Place one half onto lightly floured work surface and re-wrap the other half. Flour the rolling pin. Roll the pastry out until it is nice and thin, about 2 - 3mm. Use the 88mm biscuit cutter to cut 12 discs of pastry. Line the patty tin with the pastry disc, using the pad of your thumb and fingers to ensure it sits in the tin well. Avoid stretching the pastry. Put the off cuts aside gently.
5. Add the filling. Give the sweet mincemeat filling a stir. Use a teaspoon to fill the pastry pies. Avoid over filling them but equally don't under fill the cases. You will have a little filling left over. This can be covered and placed into the fridge for your next batch of baking or perhaps make a 'turn-over' with any off cuts of pastry from making the mince pies.
6. Add the lid to the pies. Uncover the second half of pastry. Re-flour the work surface. Dust the rolling pin with flour. Roll the pastry out on the floured surface until it is nice and thin, about 2 - 3mm. Use a 68mm biscuit cutter to cut 12 discs of pastry. Alternatively cut long narrow strips of pastry, about 2-3mm wide, to use as a lattice top. Use a pastry brush to gently apply a little water to the edge of the pastry sat in the patty mould (do this to one pie at a time). Sit a pastry lid on top and using the pads of your thumb and index finger gently apply pressure to seal the tart. Repeat with the remaining tarts. If applying a lattice top, cut the narrow strips into lengths about 5-6mm wide. Using a pastry brush, apply a little water to the exposed edge of the pastry sat in the patty tin. Gently lay 3 strips of pastry over the filling at equal distance to one another. Add another three strips so that they are laying at right angles to the original strips. Apply a little pressure to seal the strips to the pastry base. Use a paring knife, or similar, to trim the excess pastry from the lattice strips.
7. Finish the pies. Use a pastry brush to paint a little milk over the top of the pasty cases. Scatter generously with caster sugar.
8. Bake. Place into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and golden. You may need to rotate the patty tin half way through the bake.
9. Cool. Once baked, remove the tin from the oven. Use a pallet knife to remove the tarts from the tin. Place onto a cooling rack to completely cool.
Enjoy on their own, or with a little cream or brandy butter.