As we get older, do our sweet-buds start appreciating the finer desserts in life, do we prefer treacle steamed pudding to whipped cream covered microwave brownie with toffee sauce? I’m 22 today and I cannot be bothered for birthday cake. Steamed pudding or mince pie tart? Pass it over.
A couple of months ago I was kindly asked by the delicious. magazine team if I’d like to take part in their 2014 mince pie challenge. Of course I said yes, but not without crapping my pants a little. Richard Bertinet, Rebecca Smith – delicious.’ very own food editor and the managing director of The Guild Of Fine Food were to judge my clumsy baking? Have. A. Laugh.
This Blogger was up against The Chef and The Gran. Gran’s mince pies deservedly came up trumps and won the judges over with her dreamily flaky pastry and suet studded mincemeat. To be honest, never trust a gran who can’t make a winning mince pie.
I’m sharing the mincemeat recipe I used for my pies on here today, but these Almond Mince Pies are the ones I took with me to the challenge.
I admit it is too late to start giving this mincemeat monthly feeds, but if you have any mincemeat knocking around, you could spread a layer of frangipane under a pastry shell and top it with mincemeat, so that all the juices from the mincemeat sink in to the un-toasted, slightly unflavoured ground almonds. As the mincemeat is cooked twice, you only really need to feed it if you can taste the difference between fresh and matured cognac (Side note: I cant).
I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and if I don’t see you before 2015, thank you all for stopping by and reading/making the recipes – you're all amazing!
Mincemeat and frangipane tart
For the pastry
440g plain flour
75g caster sugar
35g ground almonds
Pinch sea salt
220g unsalted butter
1 egg + 1 egg separated
1 tsp almond extract
I used a 20cm deep tart tin, but the pastry in this recipes caters up to a 23cm tart tin of any depth.
For the frangipane
60g unsalted butter, softened
50g ground almonds
50g caster sugar
2 tsp plain flour
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
For the mincemeat
550g of your favourite mincemeat or...
50g dried cranberries, finely chopped
250g / 3 Pink Lady apples, peeled and cubed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 2 oranges, juice of 3
300g dark muscovado sugar
1 ball stem ginger, finely chopped
3 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
Pinch of sea salt
90g shredded suet
90g unsalted butter, melted
150g flaked almonds, toasted
160ml Grand Marnier, or ordinary cognac
Generously serves 10
For the mincemeat, stir the dried fruit together in a large bowl. Dice the apples and add them to the bowl, grate over the lemon zest, squeeze in the juice and stir to coat the fruit. Next add the orange zest and juice, sugar, spices, peel, salt and fat then stir until everything is evenly coated. If using ordinary cognac, add the zest of the 3rd orange. Carefully fold through the almonds. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm spot overnight, stirring occasionally to agitate the flavours.
Preheat oven to 110°C/90°C Fan. Transfer the mincemeat to a baking tray, cover the top with foil and bake for 2 hours. Set aside to cool slightly, and then stir in the alcohol. Lastly, transfer to sealable sterilised jars. The mincemeat will last for 2 years if stored in a cool and dark place, feed it with about 1 tbsp of brandy every couple of months for an added kick. The flavours improve a little over time, so these are perfect for a last minute mince pie knock-up.
For the pastry, place the flour, ground almonds and sugar in a food processor and blitz for 10 seconds to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse 3 to 4 times until rough breadcrumbs form. Put the processor on a slow blitz and pour in 1 egg, water and almond extract, as soon as a ball of dough takes shape, stop the mixer. If the mixture feels dry add a tbsp extra water. Pat the dough into two discs, making sure one is two thirds bigger than the other and wrap with clingfilm. Refrigerate until chilled, around 30 minutes.
Prepare the frangipane. In a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a bowl and spoom spoon), cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add ground almonds and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, add the egg, then the flour and salt. Set aside.
Remove the larger piece of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle a light film of flour over a work surface and roll the chilled dough to the thickness of a £1 coin, large enough to cover the inside of the tart tin. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and carefully unfold it into the tin. Brush the base of the pastry with some of the separated egg white, just enough to create a seal. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the frangipane across the bottom of the shell, then carefully dollop the mincemeat on top of the frangipane. Fill it up as far as you can, if you’re using a wet mincemeat, use a little less to prevent leakage.
Take the remaining dough out of the fridge and roll as before, large enough to cover the top of the tart and to the thickness of a £1 coin. This time, press a star cutter where the centre of the tart is, and then roll the dough over the pastry shell. Trim the edges and seal the sides. Use the remaining dough to cut extra star shapes and place them around the centre of the star.
Pop the tart in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan. Lightly brush the top with the egg yolk. Bake for 45/50 minutes, until the top is a light golden brown. Cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Leave the tart to cool on a wire rack and then sprinkle with a generous dusting of icing sugar. Lasts for 3 days if kept covered.
Love Em xx