This is the first recipe I made from Nigella Christmas and probably my favourite from the book.
I’m not a fan of traditional mince pies and when I saw Nigella make these on her show I thought they would be worth trying. They are delicious. They are meant to be eaten in one bite so be careful, you might eat 5 or 6 before you even know it! The pastry in these is incredibly light and flaky. The star of the show is the fruity boozy filling. It can taste quite strong so maybe this is not one for kids.
The filling can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks in a sterilised jar. The recipe says it can be frozen too but I have not tried this. I made the filling while watching this years Toy Show. If you didn’t grow up in Ireland, this will be lost on you , but it marked the beginning of Christmas in all our houses as children. Combine that on the TV with the smell of the fruit stewing in port – put me right in a festive mood!
The recipe for the filling makes enough for several batches of these little pies. The pastry makes enough for about 36 pies.
Ingredients for the cranberry mincemeat:
- 60ml ruby port
- 75g soft dark brown sugar
- 300g fresh cranberries
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 75g currants
- 75g raisins
- 30g dried cranberries
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 clementine
- 25ml brandy
- a few of drops almond extract (optional)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Heat a large pan over a medium heat and gently dissolve the sugar in the port.
- Add the fresh cranberries, then the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, currants, raisins, dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementine. Give it a good stir.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fruit will break down and absorb the liquid. I like to mash the fresh cranberries them to incorporate into the mix to make more of a paste.
- Remove from the heat. Allow it to cool a little then add your brandy, almond extract (if using), vanilla and honey. Stir thoroughly. Once cooled put into the jar and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Ingredients for the pastry:
- 240g plain flour
- 60g vegetable fat (shortening) such as Trex or Cookeen
- 60g cold unsalted butter
- juice of 1 orange
- A pinch of salt
- Measure your flour into a shallow dish. Cut the fat and butter into small cubes. Add to the flour and shake so that the fats are covered by the flour and put the dish into the freezer to chill for about 20 minutes. This apparently is what makes the pastry so flaky.
- Mix the orange juice and the salt in a small bowl and put it into the fridge to chill.
- After the 20 minutes add the flour and fats mixture into a food processor and blitz until it looks like pale crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can cut the fats through the flour with a knife. Don’t use your hands, you need this mixture to be as cold as possible.
- Start adding the salted orange juice pulsing as you do and stop once the pastry looks as thought it is coming together. You may not need to use all the orange juice. However if your juice is gone and you need more liquid, use some cold water.
- Turn out the pastry and work the dough until it just comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 miutes.
- When you are ready to make the pies, preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7 and get a mini muffin tin, fluted cookie cutter that is a little wider than the indentations in the muffin tin and mini star cutter.
- Roll out the pastry until it is quite thin. You just want it to be able to hold the mincemeat but it needs to cook quickly. Then cut out circles with the cookie cutter for this. Press these circles gently into the moulds and drop in a teaspoon of mincemeat.
- Then cut out stars from the pastry and place lightly on top of the cranberry mincemeat.
- Place in the oven and bake for anything between 10-15 minutes, mine usually take 12.
- Pop them out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
- When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar.