This is the second fiddly recipe in a row but I couldn’t hold back – homemade mince pies are ever so yummy. I present a mini version because mincemeat is rather rich and they look sweet this way. These are a British festive offering, and the word ‘meat’ is reflective of the fact that traditionally, the filling contained suet, or raw beef or mutton fat.

Here, I don’t use any fat at all in the filling (because I clean forgot the butter!) but it has turned out beautifully. Many mince pie recipes use raisins, apples and spices but I include other flavours that I adore (citrus elements, ginger, dates, almonds, molasses). I omit the traditional rum because Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year are almost upon us – I won’t need the liquor to help these babies mature. In any case, they won’t last more than a day in this household!

For the filling:

  • raisins, 350g
  • Granny Smith apples, 2, skinned and grated
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • rind of same orange, chopped and cooked in simple syrup for ten minutes
  • candied lemon peel, 100g
  • candied red cherries, handful of, chopped
  • dried apricots, 80g, chopped
  • dates, 100g, chopped
  • ginger, fresh and grated, 3 tsp
  • brown sugar, 3/4 cup
  • molasses, 2 tbsp
  • orange juice, 3/4 cup
  • sliced almonds, 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • ground cinnamon, 2-4 tsp
  • ground nutmeg, 2-3 tsp
  • butter, 50g (or not as the case may be)
  • rum, 2-3 tbsp (optional)
  1. Bung them all into a large pan and cook for about 25 mins, stirring occasionally
  2. The filling is done when the peels, apricot and raisins are soft and plumped up and everything has come together in a sticky, glossy mass
  3. Preheat the oven to 425F or 190C

For the pastry:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 220-240g cold butter, cubed
  • cold water, as needed
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse a few times
  2. Add the cubed butter and pulse till it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Slowly add water by tablespoonfuls till pastry comes together
  4. Remove from processor and pat by hand into three or four discs, encase in plastic wrap and allow to rest in fridge for 10-20 minutes
  5. Remove the discs from the fridge and roll out on a floured clean surface till thin and pliable. I hardly needed flour as this dough isn’t sticky
  6. Use round, metal pastry cutters to cut out circles
  7. Place these in a greased (mini) tart pan
  8. Fill with mincemeat, then cut out stars or whatever shape you like for the tops
  9. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sugar crystals (the bigger the more attractive)
  10. Bake for 15 minutes till golden or slightly brown at the edges
  11. Hide them from the family if necessary!

(All text and photos or images are copyright protected. Please do not reprint any stories, recipes or photographs without the author’s permission.)