Monday, 28 November 2011
Frangipane Mince Pies
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there really is no denying it now. Even without the seasonal (read disruptive) snowfall that we had last year at this time. The lights are all up and turned on in Dublin now even though the sun is mostly still shining on us. We've all spotted a Christmas tree up in someone's house through the window already and discussed on Facebook how it was far too early for that lark. But come Thursday, it's December and then we will all be sending the husbands (or other designated male in the house) up the attic to pull down the Christmas decorations. Apparently it's only men that are allowed in the attic. Then we'll be writing cards, wrapping gifts, drinking copious amounts of red wine, singing along with Wham on the radio, gossiping about what so and so did at the Christmas Party and generally partaking in the Christmas spirit.
I think I'm even begining to feel a little festive. I don't know whether this is because I saw Santa and a few elves in the RDS this weekend or if it's because I baked some mince pies. I think it could even be down to the mulled wine I had. Or uttering the sentence, so casually like it had just slipped out, 'What do you want for Christmas?' it was out of my mouth before I even realised. But something has clicked and now I'm ready to start preparing for it. And prepare I did, I have started to put my mincemeat to use and made some frangipane mince pies on Sunday afternoon......
Adapted from Neven's Real Food for Families - Neven McGuire
This recipe makes 16 mini mince pies and 7 regular sized pies
100g butter, chilled and diced
175g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbs of cream or cold milk
115g icing sugar
25g plain flour
115g ground almonds
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1tbsp of vanilla extract
Put the butter, flour and sugar into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and cream or milk and blend again, until the mixture just comes together. It's important not to overwork the pastry at this stage or it will become tough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for about an hour.
To make the almond filling, place the butter and icing sugar into a freestanding mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the flour and almonds and then gradually beat in the eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Beat for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
When the pastry is completely chilled. Roll it out between two sheets of clingfilm* a little thicker than a €2 coin. For the mini mince pies, use a 2 & 1/4" scone cutter and for the large pies use a 3" scone cutter. The pastry is difficult to work with, so have a small pile of flour on hand to dip your fingers in and for the knife that you are using to lift the pastry shapes. I also found it useful to have a small rolling pin on hand, dusted in flour that I used to push the pastry down into the tin with. If the pastry begins to start sticking and you feel like you want to throw a hissyfit, wrap it back up with cling and stick it into the freezer for 10 minutes, so you can both cool down.
Fill the pies with mincmeat (the small ones will only really need a teaspoon of mixture) and top with frangipane. Have two teaspoons and a cup of hot water on standby, use one teaspoon to dollop on the frangipane and the other spoon that was sitting in the hot water smoothing the mixure down.
Bake in preated oven. About 10 minutes for the mini pies and about 15 for the larger ones. Ensure they are golden brown when removing from the oven. Leave in the tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
*This prevents the pastry from sticking to the work surface and also stops the flour ratio in the pastry increasing and unbalancing the recipe.
I've put my mince pies in the freezer until closer to the big day. If you want to do the same, just pop them into a freezer bag (I really like the Ikea ones) and store until required. Let the mince pies defrost at room temperature. They can be warmed through in the oven before serving.