My plans of leisure away from this screen have been sidelined…. by these. A relaxed morning of pastry making resulted in these charming cookie cutter Christmas mince pies. Nothing unusual there. Apparently 3500 Instagram fans ♥ ‘ed them as much as the family, so I figured you might like them too. And if you do, feel free to share this recipe with those who like ‘mincing’ around at Christmas time.
The recipe is pretty straight forward, with easy to follow instructions. Take one bottle of ready made fruit mince, mix in a handful of chopped pecan nuts, cranberries, a
heavy handed shot of brandy and fill ’em up. Play with the pastry tops like you’re a rule-breaker, cover and bake until a golden. How easy is that?
The pastry is very forgiving so don’t be put off by making your own. Homemade always tastes best unless it’s filo or puff. For those occasions, follow the arrows to the frozen food section. When making your own, remember to chill the pastry before rolling it out to prevent shrinkage and to yield a light and flaky crust. Essential for successful pastry making is a cool kitchen, cold hands and warm heart. Ask any Italian. You can taste love in food!
If you’re in need of a holiday craft project, how about some pastry weaving? Here’s the step-by-step visual instructions. Should I try to explain the process, I feel like your woven pastry mat could end up resembling a Paul Hollywood 24-string braided bread intended only for the gifted. For the pastry strips, aim for 8mm widths. The length depends on how many plaited tops you’re after. So here it is….
Tada! It should look more or less like this. If not, reverse and start again. Only kidding. It’s finicky but totally rewarding when you win the annual Mince Pie challenge and are crowned Queen of the Martha Stewart weaving fraternity.
For more festive holiday baking ideas, this Gingerbread bundt cake is a breeze to make and doubles up as an edible Christmas wreathe. If you prefer something lighter, a watermelon salad wreathe with feta and balsamic beads is not only healthy and fresh, but a frivolously pretty edible conversation piece.
I know I said a few words, but here’s the last bit of advice. Make dozens of these cookie cutter mince pies and freeze them for later. They’re my go-to back-up plan for relaxed holidays entertaining. This Christmas, when long lost friends from Norway arrive unexpectedly on your doorstep or, your extended family includes three dozen hungry heads, pop a tray of these in the oven and serve with chilled bubbly, mugs of warming eggnog (Northern hemisphere folk) or a cup of proper English tea. Whichever shoe fits, make these!
Cookie cutter mince pies
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of your favourite tipple – brandy, sherry, port etc..
1/2 jar (about 250g) good quality fruit mince
1/4 cup finely chopped pecan nuts
Place the cranberries in a small heat-proof bowl and pour over the brandy. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Combine the cranberries, fruit mince and pecan nuts. Set aside.
For the pastry
180 g all-purpose cake flour
a pinch of salt
40g confectioner’s sugar
90g cold butter, cut into small dice
1 tablespoon ice cold water
Sift together the flour, salt and confectioner’s sugar. Rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Lightly whisk the egg and add to the flour. Add 1 tablespoon cold water and mix until the dough comes together. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200º C. Lightly spray a 12 – hole tart tin with non-stick baking spray. Roll the pastry out on a well-floured board and cut rounds slightly larger that the forms. Line the tart cases and press down gently. Fill each case with a heaped teaspoon of fruit mince. Press out 12 cookie shapes and lay over the filling. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Cool in the tart cases for 10 minutes before turning out. Dust with castor sugar and serve warm.