Brandy, bourbon and Port are optional in this recipe, but they make all the difference. It's not Christmas in our house without a little plate of mince pies!
Would you believe that Mince Pies traditionally contained minced meat? I find this very bizarre, but a lot of bizarre foods were consumed in the Middle Ages (roasted cat or beaver tail, anyone?) This mince pie is, luckily, meat free and contains nothing but fruit, both dried and fresh, and is finished with brandy. These are traditionally served in Britain around Christmas and my holiday is not complete without them. So much so, that last year, I brought muffin tins, and homemade mincemeat to Switzerland with me that I could make them there!
The filling makes enough for 4 batches of 12, this keeps well in the fridge for a week or two (I usually bake them fresh every few days as needed) and they make lovely gifts. The dough also makes enough for 4-6 batches depending on how thin you roll it, I prefer mine with a thin, crisp shell, but you do you!
These MUST be served with some type of boozy butter, I like Bourbon Butter, but Brandy or Rum butters are delicious too! xoxo Kirsty
Ingredients for Cranberry & Apple Mincemeat (for 48 mini mince pies)
2.5oz. (70g) currants
2.5oz. (70g) raisins
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) brandy, divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) ruby port
1/2 cup (75g) dark brown sugar
10oz. (285g) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1oz. (30g) dried cranberries
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons (30ml) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops almond extract
Combine the currants and raisins in a small bowl and soak them in 1/4 cup brandy for at least half an hour, or overnight. This is optional, you can also leave out the brandy and add the raisins and currants to the cranberry mixture.
In a large pan, combine the sugar and the ruby port over a gentle heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cranberries and stir. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, currants and raisins (with the brandy they soaked in), dried cranberries, the zest and juice of the orange and cubed apples. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. Whilst it's simmering, use a wooden spoon to smoosh the cranberries a little. Remove from the heat, allow it to cool a bit, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons brandy, honey, vanilla, and almond extracts and stir well with a wooden spoon, continuing to mash the mixture into a paste. Cool the mincemeat completely before spooning it into clean containers. May be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Ingredients for the pie crusts, makes around 48
3 cups (375g) flour
1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (125g) sugar
pinch of salt
1 eggs, 1 for the pastry
a few drops of cold water
To make the pastry, rub the flour, butter, sugar and egg together with a splash of cold water until it comes together as a dough. Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it comes together to a crumbly dough. You don't want to over work it, the more crumbly it is, the better the texture of the finished pies. Press the dough together to form a disc and wrap it in cling film. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
To assemble the mince pies:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup raw cane sugar for sprinkling
Brush a mini muffin tin with butter or spray with a non-stick baking spray. Roll out the pastry to a 1/8 inch (3mm) thickness. With a round, 2-1/2 inch (6 cm) cookie cutter, cut out discs. Cut out stars, hearts or smaller circles for the tops using the scraps. Press the larger circles into the muffin cups and fill each one with a heaped teaspoon of the mincemeat mixture, so that it's just shy of the top of the pastry cup.
Place a lid, or cut-out shape, on top of each pie and gently push down. Brush with eggwash and sprinkle with cane sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with bourbon butter (recipe below).
These keep well for 5 days in a cool, air-tight container. To reheat, warm in a 350F (180C) oven for 5-10 minutes.
For the Bourbon Butter:
1 stick (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (145g) light brown sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons (45ml) bourbon
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the brown sugar and salt, beat until fully combined. Add the bourbon a tablespoon at a time, beating between additions, until fully incorporated. Cover and chill, remove from the fridge until about half an hour before serving the mince pies.