We have so much fun with mince pies and do lots of variations. Sometimes we press out a start shape from the top so the mincemeat is visible, then we use that star to cover the next one. A tiny heart can be put on top of another. All mince pies with a pastry top need to be brushed with egg wash before going into the oven.
Makes 20-24 mince pies
225g (8oz) plain flour
175g (6oz) butter, chilled and cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) approx. cubes
1 dessertspoon icing sugar, sieved
a pinch of salt
a little beaten egg or egg yolk and water to bind
450g (1lb) Ballymaloe Mincemeat (see recipe)
Irish Whiskey Cream (see recipe)
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Toss the butter into the flour and rub it in with your fingertips. Add the icing sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix with a fork as you gradually add in the beaten egg (do this bit by bit because you may not need all the egg), then use your hand to bring the pastry together into a ball: it should not be wet or sticky. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Roll out the pastry until it’s quite thin - about 3mm (1/8 inch). Stamp out into rounds 7.5cm (3 inch) in diameter and line shallow bun tins with the discs. Put a good teaspoonful of mincemeat into each tin, dampen the edges with water and put another round on top. Brush with egg wash and decorate with pastry leaves in the shape of holly berries, etc.
Bake the mince pies in a preheated oven for 20 minutes approx. Allow them to cool slightly, then dredge with icing or castor sugar.
Serve with a blob of whiskey flavoured cream.
Mince Pies with Meringue
2 egg whites, preferably free-range and organic
110g (4oz) caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.
Line the tins and fill as in the master recipe but do not put another pastry round on top of the pies.
To make the meringue, check that our mixing bowl is spotlessly clean and free from grease. Put the egg whites and caster sugar into the bowl and whisk until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. Pipe a blob of meringue on top of each pie with a large start nozzle. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the meringue to cool in the oven.
Mince Pies with Almond Crumble
110g (4oz) self-raising flour
75g (3oz) caster sugar
75g (3oz) chilled butter
25g (1oz) flaked almonds
Line the tins and fill as in the master recipe, but do not put another pastry round on top of the pies.
Mix together the flour and sugar and then rub in the butter with your fingertips to make a coarse crumble. Add the flaked almonds. Sprinkle a generous teaspoon of crumble on top of each mince pie. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Irish Whiskey Cream
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon icing sugar, sieved
225ml (8fl oz) softly whipped cream
Fold the whiskey and sugar into the whipped cream.
Ballymaloe Homemade Mincemeat
Here are three delicious options, the first is the classic Ballymaloe Mincemeat recipe passed down in Myrtle Allen’s family for several generations. It contains suet, so it’s moist and juicy and best eaten hot. Emer Fitzgerald’s Mincemeat is vegetarian. It doesn’t include suet or butter and is also gluten-free. Brandy Mincemeat does not include suet either, but it does have butter. All keep well, but the original Ballymaloe Mincemeat keeps for years – I can vouch for at least two or three.
Makes 3.2 kilos (7lbs) approx.
Makes 8-9 pots.
2 cooking apples, such as Bramley’s Seedlings
2 organic lemons
790g (1lb 12oz) Barbados sugar (moist, soft, dark-brown sugar)
450g (1lb) beef suet
450g (1lb) sultanas
225g (8oz) currants
110g (4oz) candied citrus peel (preferably homemade
62ml (2 1/2fl oz) Irish whiskey
2 tablespoons Seville orange marmalade pinch of salt Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Core and bake the whole apples in the preheated oven for 30 minutes approx. Allow to cool. When they are soft, remove the skin and pips and mash the flesh into pulp. Grate the rind from the lemons on the finest part of a stainless-steel grater, squeeze out the juice and stir into the pulp. Add the other ingredients one by one, and as they are added, mix everything thoroughly. Put into sterilized jars, cover and leave to mature for 2 weeks before using. This mincemeat will keep for two to three years in a cool, airy place.
Taken from revised ‘A Simply Delicious Christmas’ by Darina Allen, published by Gill Books
Ballymaloe Cookery School
Shanagarry, East Cork, P25 R274
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