A couple of weeks ago I got to host my first ever Twitter chat when the lovely people on the #fdbloggers chat bravely left me in charge for a full hour to talk about getting ready for Christmas. Lots of lovely people joined in, including many of my current favourite bloggers, and after the talk was through I proclaimed to my friends I was going to bake all of the Christmas food in existence because I was so excited. I've got a few experiments still going that I'm really hoping to perfect enough to share with you in time for the holidays but first up I decided to tackle a christmas staple, and that I would do it properly this year.
While I was still pretty pleased with last years mince pie recipe and have been getting lots of requests from friends to make them again, I really wanted to try and up my game a little this year so I thought it was time to make my own mincemeat. I partly wanted to prove that I could but also to see if it really was something worth doing when mincemeat can be so cheap to buy ready made now.
The result was a little more time consuming than the last time I made mince pies, taking the better part of an afternoon from start to finish but I really do think it was worth it. Making the mincemeat from scratch allowed me to customise it to my own tastes perfectly. I'm not a big fan of mixed peel so I took that out all together and instead included extra mixed berries and apple for a range of flavours and textures.
I wanted to make these really warming so along with some traditional spices, I also used an apple, chilli and cinnamon compote we bought from the chilli festival a few months ago. At the festival this was described to me as having a very 'christmassy' flavour so I'd been saving it up for exactly this reason and I wasn't disappointed. It's sweet, spicy, rich (everything christmas cooking should be) and I think it added some great depth of flavour to the mince pies. If you can't find anything similar though just use some extra cinnamon and then chilli flakes or a chilli sauce of your choosing and you should get a pretty similar effect.
Over all there is quite a lot going on here, they're very indulgent. But you can alter the mincemeat recipe to suit your own tastes, just try and keep the same overall weight of dried fruit and amount of liquid or it may end up too watery. It'll be better if made a few days (or ideally a couple of weeks) ahead of when you want to make the pies but even the same day I reckon these would post most supermarket mince pies to shame.
These were made in my mini muffin tray again to make deep filled, bite sized portions that would be perfect for sharing. I don't think I've ever loved any bakeware like I love that tray, even though it's never actually seen a muffin. If you want to make full sized mince pies you'll need to cook for an extra 5-10 minutes.
Spiced Mince Pie Bites Recipe
375g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
230g soft brown sugar
200g dried cranberries or dried mixed berries
1 large apple (finely chopped)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp chilli compote
1 tsp ginger
juice of 1 lemon
80ml of brandy
Gently heat all of the mincemeat ingredients except the brandy in a large pan until the butter and sugar melt and the mixture becomes thick and sticky. Add extra spices or sugar if required (be very careful when tasting as it will be very hot) Set aside for an hour or two to cool, then stir in the brandy and place in an air tight containers/jar or if making the same day, put in the fridge while you make the pastry.
To make the pastry, rub together all the ingredients and then add small splashes of water until it comes together. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface until about half a cm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out circles big enough for your tin. I have a silicone tray so I don't usually bother to grease it but if your bakeware isn't non-stick you may need to add a small amount of butter or oil before pressing the pastry circles into the holes. Fill each case with a teaspoon of mincemeat and then top with another circle, pressing down lightly at the sides to seal.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 200c and allow at least 5 minutes of cooling time before serving.