Hands up, who likes readymade mince pies from the supermarket? You do? Come on guys you’re seriously missing out. The problem with shop bought pies is the pastry. It’s overly sweet, stodgy and always ends up a sticky mass attached to the roof of my mouth. You see, I like my pastry a little more biscuity in texture, with a little less sugar. You should be able to eat more than a couple without feeling nauseous, and you just can’t do that with the shop bought ones. They’re too rich. Half is already too much and that’s just not right, and they are completely devoid of colour. Each identical to the next in their sad little tinfoil moulds. I could go on but I’ll stop right there with the ranting. After all it’s the festive season and I don’t want to be mistaken for a Scrooge. Instead, thanks to these easy instructions you’ll be able to bake some truly remarkable Mince Pies. 

The quantity of mincemeat you end up with is impressive (enough for around 35 pies)…good for big families, Mince pies enthusiasts or freezing! Last Christmas, Alessia wanted to give only handmade gifts to her family members and the Mince pie tray was a hit especially with our Italian relatives who had never tried this traditional English pastry/dessert/pudding before.
The pies keep really well at room temperature for 3 to 4 days (that is if they last that long...)

Here’s the deal...

for the pastry:
(this is enough for 18-20 pies)
70g white flour 
70 gr whole meal flour
70 gr almond flour
50 g oat meal
1 egg
¼ tsp salt
1/3 glass ice cold water
4 tbsp sunflower oil
4 tbsp brown sugar

for the mince meat:

4 Tbsp black strap molasses
150 ml sweet sherry
250 g raisins
100 g dried figs
100 g medjool dates
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
a few drops of almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
about 80 gr toasted almonds, roughly chopped
sunflower oil for brushing
icing sugar for dusting

(Print the recipe here)

Mix the flour, salt, oat meal, and sugar and mix.
Add the oil. Mix with a mixer or with your hands to obtain fine crumbs.
Then add the egg, mix and add ice cold water little by little, mixing constantly and stopping as soon as the dough is moist enough to form a ball.
Place it 15 minutes in the freezer or 30 minutes in the fridge.
Meanwhile in a large pan, dissolve the molasses in the sherry over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, spices, zest and  juice of the mandarin and almond extract. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed stirring occasionally. You may need to add more cherry if it is absorbed quickly.
Add vanilla extracts, honey and the nuts. Stir well to combine everything and leave the mixture to cool in a bowl. When the mixture is cool, preheat the oven to 200 C and oil & flour your muffin tins.
Roll out half of the pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out circles of about 9 or 10 cm diameter and tops of about 7 cm diameter, you may have to re roll the pastry and may get a few more. Push the larger circles into the muffin tins and fill each pastry case with a dessertspoonful of the mixture. Brush the edges of the pastry base with a little oil and then top with the smaller circles. Push the edges together to seal. Make a little slit in the top of each with a sharp knife and brush with a little olive oil (or egg wash) and bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and puffy. Keep an eye on them they cook quickly.

Leave to cool for a few minutes then take them out of the tin. Leave the tin to cool down completely before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. You can serve hot, warm or room temperature with a mug of tea, ice cream or a glass of Amaretto or Vin Santo di Malvasia on the side….

Hope you are having the happiest of Christmas with your family and friends.
Until next time.

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