If you want to make these delicious mince pies in advance, complete to the end of step 4 up to 3 days ahead. Refresh in a moderate oven at 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4) for 8–10 minutes, then glaze. Alternatively, you can freeze the mince pies at the end of step 4. Thaw at room temperature for 2–3 hours, then warm through in the oven as described below before glazing.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
– 175g (6oz) plain flour
– 100g (4oz) butter, diced and chilled
– 50g (2oz) caster sugar
– pinch of salt
– 1 egg yolk, plus beaten egg to glaze
– ½ tbsp cream
– ½ tsp lemon juice
For the frangipane:
– 100g (4oz) butter, softened
– 100g (4oz) caster sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 100g (4oz) ground almonds
– 1 tbsp plain flour
– ½ tsp almond extract, or to taste
For the filling and topping:
– 100g (4oz) mincemeat (336 or shopbought)
– 25g (1oz) flaked almonds
– apricot jam, to glaze
– a little lemon juice or water icing sugar, to dust
1. To make the pastry, place the flour, butter, sugar and salt into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds. Add the egg yolk, cream and lemon juice and blend again just until the pastry comes together – do not overwork the dough or the pastry will be tough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour.
2. To make the frangipane, put the butter and sugar into the unwashed food processor and blend until soft and creamy. Scrape down the sides, then add the eggs and continue to process. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract and mix briefly.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).
4. Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and cut into 18 x 6.5cm (2½in) circles and use these to line the bun tins. Spoon a teaspoon of mincemeat into each tartlet and top with the frangipane. There is no need to spread the mixture flat, as it will level out in the oven (but don’t overfill the tins). Sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top of each one. Bake for 15–17 minutes, until cooked through and lightly golden, watching them carefully to make sure they don’t catch around the edges and burn. Remove from the tins and allow to cool a little on a wire rack.
5. Dilute the apricot jam with a little lemon juice or water and bring to the boil, then brush each warm tartlet with this glaze. Like traditional mince pies, these are best served warm with a light dusting of icing sugar.
Variation: Frangipane and mincemeat tart
If you want to make a large tart, you can use the exact quantity above to fill a 23cm (9in) fluted loose-bottomed flan tin, which will take about 25 minutes to bake in the preheated oven.
Not surprisingly, my Auntie Maureen is the champion of this Maguire classic. Before she retired, she was a domestic science teacher in Cavan, and I don’t believe she ever had a pupil who didn’t learn how to make her marvellous mincemeat pies. Once you’ve made it yourself, you’ll never buy another jar of the stuff again. Why not make twice the amount of mincemeat and put it into some sterilised fancy jars, then wrap with a red ribbon and give a jar to your friends for a Christmas gift?
Makes about 4 x 400g (14oz) jars
– 225g (8oz) butter
– 350g (12oz) eating apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
– 225g (8oz) raisins
– 225g (8oz) sultanas
– 225g (8oz) currants
– 175g (6oz) blanched almonds, chopped
– 175g (6oz) dark brown sugar
– 100g (4oz) candied citrus peel
– finely grated rind of 1 orange
– finely grated rind of 1 lemon
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ tsp ground nutmeg
– ½ tsp ground cloves
– ½ tsp fine salt
– 300ml (½ pint) whiskey
Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave for 2 days for the flavours to develop, then pack into 4 x 400g (14oz) sterilised, dry jars. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks before use.
Our families are the most important people in our lives, so when it comes to mealtimes we want to give them the best we can. This new definitive collection from Neven Maguire gives you all the inspiration and help you’ll need to get more of the good stuff into your family’s diet and make homemade food the heart of your home.
The book also includes lots of tips on how to wean the family off processed food for meal and snack times, how to plan for large family gatherings, how to cut down on food waste and how to bake the perfect celebration cake.
Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook is published by Gill Books and available to buy in all good book stores and online at www.gillbooks.ie/cookery.