It just wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies, and it’s so much more satisfying to make your own. They also make a great last minute present – make them in advance and freeze them, then defrost a couple of hours before required. Pack them into a pretty gift box and tie with ribbon for a gift that’s sure to be appreciated. Here are our tips for the ultimate mince pies – why not make a number of different varieties so you can offer a ‘mince pie selection box’?
- For the best rich, buttery taste, make sweet pastry from 225g plain flour, 1100g butter, 80g sugar and one large egg. Rub the fat into the flour, stir in the sugar and add just enough of the beaten egg to bind the dough.
- Warm the mincemeat a little before using, and stir in a couple of tablespoons of liqueur for an added kick – Cointreau and Calvados both work well. If using Cointreau, try adding some grated orange zest as well.
- Leaving the top open or adding a pastry star instead of a lid makes the pies lighter. Decorate the cooked pie with toasted flaked almonds or a sprinkle of icing sugar.
- For variations, try adding chopped dried apricots or dates, chunks of dark chocolate, dried cherries, dates or toasted almonds to the basic mincemeat. Alternatively, cut a small piece of marzipan and roll it into a rough ball. Flatten it between finger and thumb and press it into the bottom of the pastry case before adding the mincemeat.
- Serve with homemade brandy butter. Use 100g unsalted butter, 100g icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of brandy or Cointreau and a tiny splash of boiling water. Beat everything together until smooth and chill in the fridge until required. Serve the mince pies hot, with a little spoonful of brandy butter melting on top. Otherwise, try hot mince pies with cream, vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.
Here at the Swettenham Arms, we’re getting ready for Christmas with our winter menu and special Christmas events. To find out more, visit our events page or call us on 01477 571284.