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A Merry Christmas with Mince Pies

24 Dec Mince Pies

Mince Pies

Just a quick hello before I go out to the post office, supermarket, Moroccan shop, forest for more cones and make more of these mince pies. The list is actually a lot longer than that but I am out of bed before 10 am (unheard of) and am not going to get stressed about anything today. I have promised myself. And breathe…

Mince Pies

This is my recipe for mince pies and I have to say that, in my opinion, they beat any shop bought ones by a mile. They are better because: number one they contain Amaretto almond liqueur and anything tastes better with Amaretto in it. They also contain chopped toasted almonds for a bit of crunch, dried cranberries, mandarin zest and, the special ingredient, crystallised ginger. Make these and you’ll never go back to shop bought I promise. Even if you have an ever-increasing list of things to do….

Mince Pie

In the pictures and the recipe below I have used shop bought puff pastry but I have also made a lovely batch with this spelt flour pastry recipe adding a teaspoon of mixed spice to the flour. If you don’t have all the different dried fruits you can just  use the more traditional, raisins and sultanas.

Marvelous Mince Pies Recipe

Makes 12- 16 pies, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted)
  • 4 Tbsp molasses/miel de cana/maple syrup
  • 75 ml sweet sherry or port
  • 250 g moscatel raisins
  • 50 g dried figs
  • 50 g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50 g medjool dates without stones
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 50 g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or Cointreau is nice)you may need to add more
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • about 100 -150 gr chopped toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • olive oil for brushing
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the molasses/miel de cana in the sherry over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, crystallised ginger, spices, zest and  juice of the mandarin and the Amaretto. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed stirring occasionally. You may need to add more amaretto if it is absorbed quickly.

Add the almond & vanilla extracts, honey and the nuts. Stir well to combine everything and leave the mixture to cool in a bowl.

When the mixture is cool (very important or the pastry won’t work), preheat the oven to 200 degrees and oil & flour your muffin tins.

Roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out 6 circles of about 9 or 10 cm diameter and 6 tops of about 7 cm diameter, you may have to re roll the pastry and may get a few more than 6 if you do. Push the larger circles into the muffin tins and fill each pastry case with a dessertspoonful of the mixture. Brush the edges of the pastry base with a little oil and then top with the smaller circles. Push the edges together to seal.

Make a little slit in the top of each with a sharp knife and brush with a little olive oil (or egg wash) and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and puffy. Keep an eye on them they cook quickly. Leave to cool for a few minutes then take them out of the tin. Leave the tin to cool down completely before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. You can serve hot, warm or room temperature with cream, ice cream or a glass of Amaretto on the side….

MInce Pies

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Felices Fiestas!

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Individual Strawberry and Amaretto Trifles with Toasted Flaked Almonds and Crushed Amaretti Biscuits

26 Jun MIni Strawberry Amaretto Trifles

You can make a big one if you like but these are cute, don’t you think? I made a big version (in fact it was huge) for a Jubilee party at our friend, Jeanne’s house. There were about 14 people going so I made the most enormous trifle and an apricot frangipane tart aswell. Well you wouldn’t want to run out of desserts would you? 

Jeanne knows how to throw a party, she has a fine selection of a cushions in a pink Jubilee style and she always makes the best drinks. Champagne with strawberries and a big jug of Pimms filled with fresh fruit, cucumber and mint. How to choose? One of each obviously.

Even after a gorgeous buffet prepared by Jeanne everyone managed to polish off one or (in some cases) two desserts. It’s difficult to get a good picture of a trifle as you can see from my attempt below, it’s like a big sloppy delicious mess really. I was pleased with the glaze on my apricot tart though.

So, solely for your benefit you understand, I had to make some of these pretty little individual trifles that would photograph better.

Just a few tips; the recipe below is just an outline, it obviously depends on the size of you dish, glass or bowl as to how much of everything you need. The fruit can be replaced with whatever is in season or looks nice in the market, as can the booze, just try to match it with the fruit. You may have to do a few taste tests first before you get the right combination!

Oh and don’t go too mad with the amount you put in, apparently it is possible to have too much alcohol in a trifle. Mine was a little on the strong side but there are worse things in life and I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

Individual Strawberry & Amaretto Trifles

  • mini sponge cakes (or trifle sponges)
  • strawberry jam
  • amaretto
  • fresh strawberries
  • icing sugar
  • creme patissiere (or thick custard) see my recipe  That amount was enough for 4 or 5 individual trifles . I added a splosh of amaretto to it instead of the orange blossom water.
  • double cream (for whipping)
  • vanilla extract
  • caster sugar
  • mascarpone
  • flaked almonds (toasted in a dry pan)
  • amaretti biscuits

Spread the jam on each of the sponges and sandwich them together to form a single layer covering the bottom of your dish, glass or bowl. Try one. Jam sponge is lovely, how long has it been?

Poke holes all over the sponges with a wooden skewer and slowly drizzle over the Amaretto letting it soak in. Don’t go too mad. Leave it for about 10 minutes to soak in properly.

Hull and half or quarter some strawberries and arrange them evenly on top of the sponge. Blend about the same amount of strawberries and a tablespoon or two of icing sugar to a smooth coulis/sauce and pour it over the strawberries.

Cover with a layer of cooled creme patissiere (or thick custard). Whip some cream with the same amount of mascarpone, a little vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of caster sugar to soft peaks. Spread this evenly over the custard layer.

Refrigerate until ready to serve and then top with a layer of toasted flaked almonds and crumble over some Amaretti biscuits.

Enjoy!!

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