Sunday, 27 November 2011

Most Awesome Mince Pies

What cheese can you use to hide a horse in?

Marscapone.  Mask-a-pony?  Geddit?

That's one of my Dad's favourite jokes for you.  The relevance will become clear later.

Sorry for the lack of dinner bloggage - we've been eating out/eating leftovers/eating fajitas from commercial kits.  Nobody would have been interested, trust me.

Now, onto the Christmassy yumminess. I'm always looking for new ways to quickly and easily gussy up some shop bought mincemeat, and this little stroke of inspiration brings some sassy gorgeousness to the humble mince pie.  Also fun to make are mini mince pie 'pasties', and super-quick if you have a miniature device to make pasties like these beauties from Lakeland:

 Lakeland Pasty Press Set

(and not honestly all that taxing if you don't - if you can fold a circle and use a fork you're pretty much sorted.)

Pear and Chocolate Mince Pies - makes approx 18 pies or 24-30 small 'pasties'

822g (large jar) of classic/basic mincemeat or equivalent amount of homemade (Lidl's is very nice, and reasonable)
1 large/2 small firm pears, conference or similar, peeled, cored and finely chopped
40g dark chocolate, finely chopped
320g plain flour
30g cornflour
125g butter, cubed
100g vegetable fat (Trex/Crisp N Dry) cubed
1 egg, beaten
cold water
pinch salt
vegetable oil to grease tins
milk or another beaten egg, to glaze
icing sugar to serve

If making pies, grease the cups of a muffin tin with oil. If making pasties, pop some greaseproof on a couple of baking trays.

To make the pastry, rub the fats into the flour, cornflour and salt until it resembles nubbly breadcrumbs.  Add the beaten egg then stir with a cold clean knife, adding the cold water 1tsp at a time until it comes together in a dough but not so much it becomes sticky.  If it's sticky, add more flour.

Wrap in clingfilm and chuck in the fridge for 15 minutes. Turn the oven on, about 200 degrees.

Mix the mincemeat with the chopped pear and chocolate.

On a floured surface, roll out some of your dough to about 3-4mm thick.  Cut circles to fit your muffin tins, if you're using a bona fide muffin tin they'll need to be about 3" diameter, bit smaller for shallower bun tins.  Pat the circles into the greased tin, then roll out the rest of your dough and cut star, Christmas tree or other natty little shapes for the lids.

Fill each cup to just below the brim with the mincemeat, then pop on the natty lid. No need to stick it down, it will seal itself with the sugar from the mincemeat. Glaze with milk or egg and bake for approx 15 minutes, until golden.  Leave to cool a little before extracting from the tin with a spoon.  You can then pop them into fancy paper cases if you so wish, or just snarf them with a cup of coffee.

If you want to make the crisp, flaky little pasties instead, just cut lots of 3" circles.  If you have a pasty press, pop the circle into the press, add a scant teaspoon of mincemeat and press to seal.  If not, add the mincemeat then fold in half, pressing all around the outside with the tines of a fork to seal in place.  Repeat till everything is used up, place on the greasproofed baking trays and glaze and bake as above.

To make these gorgeous, you can sift icing sugar all over them, as though dusted prettily in beautiful snow.  Even though we know that snow is only pretty for five minutes, until you realise you're housebound with two fractious children and no bread by great drifts of the stinking, freezing stuff.  No, you may keep snow, but the sugared pies do look quite fetching.

Very tasty served warm with thick cream, brandy butter or those fancypants liqueur creams from supermarkets, or my personal favourite - a great dollop of marscapone.

Told you it would all make sense in the end!

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