Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mini-Mince Pies

I think the name of these is not the most appetizing, but I discovered these little gems while celebrating Christmas with my friend Penny when my husband and I lived in India. I felt like we Americans had missed out on these delicious little morsels, having the ugly cousin, fruitcake, on our tables instead. Traditionally, mincemeat pies contain suet, the fat from around the kidneys, and some booze as part of the mincemeat. Since the suet kind of grosses me out and since I want my kids to eat these, I leave both of these out and still have a tasty little product--more tasty if you ask me. The first instructions are for a food processor with regular instructions following. That's a kitchen tool I waited years to get in Asia and just got a few months ago. Indispensable! You can use whatever dried fruit you'd like in this recipe. Last year I did cranberries and apricots. This year I used dried figs and cherries--both ways were delicious!

If only mine looked this beautiful! They disappeared too fast!
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
Zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 apple, cored and cut into large pieces (not peeled)
1 cup golden raisins/sultanas (kismis locally)
1 cup mixed dried fruit
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup orange juice or brandy

Since everything is going to chop finely, I use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon and orange (white and all). Then, with the outer peel side down, I scrape a paring knife over the peel to remove any pith.

Next, place the orange and lemon rind in the food processor with the brown sugar and whiz until finely chopped and mixed. Add the apple, lemon juice, and half of the golden raisins and mixed fruit. Whiz until the apple is finely chopped, then add the remaining raisins and fruit, spices, salt, and orange juice/brandy, and blitz again just until everything is combined. Sit out overnight in a covered container.

By-hand Alternative: Finely chop the zest of the lemon and orange. Next, finely chop the apple and half of the golden raisins and half the dried fruit. Put all this into a bowl, and stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice, remaining dried fruit/raisins, spices, salt, and liquid. Stir to combine, cover, and sit out overnight.

Using a basic pie crust recipe (slightly sweetened if you'd like), press the crust into a muffin pan to make mini-pies. Fill each pie with about a tablespoon of the mincemeat. If using a mini-muffin tin, use only about a teaspoon. Top with another piece of crust. I like to use the star design that you see all over the web, but a simple crisscross looks great, too. To make them really sparkle, brush the tops with an egg wash or butter and sprinkle with chunky sugar. Bake in a 200C/400F oven for 12-15 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Once cooled, store in an airtight container. They freeze really well, too, so I think these shouldn't be just reserved for holidays.

These are perfect little afternoon tea snacks!

Note: The recipe did not come from the Joy of Baking site, but theirs were so cute I had to share the picture.

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