festive

Tahini Crumble Mince Pies with Cardamom, Pomegranate and Orange

In the old school spirit of stir up Sunday I thought now might be a good time to share my favourite mincemeat recipe (it’s not compulsory to make this on 25th November though, it will work just as well after a few days of maturing!). This is pretty classic in it’s foundations and I’ve been making it for a few years, but this year I’ve jazzed it up with some of my favourite Middle Eastern flavours (think pomegranate molasses, orange blossom, cardamom and pistachios). You could make traditional pastry-topped mince pies with this mincemeat, but I think it works really well with a tahini crumble topping- try it out!

Ingredients

For the mincemeat (makes about 1kg)

  • 275g sultanas
  • 100g dried apricots, diced
  • 100g dates, diced
  • 75g dried figs, diced
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 2 oranges, juice and zest
  • 1tbsp orange blossom extract
  • 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled and diced
  • 200g vegetarian suet
  • 50g roughly chopped almonds
  • 50g roughly chopped walnuts
  • 75g roughly chopped pistachios
  • 150g Demerara sugar
  • 50g muscovado sugar
  • 200ml spiced rum

For the pastry (enough for 8 large, deep fill mince pies or 12 smaller mince pies)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 140g butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2tbsp milk

For the crumble topping

  • 50g tahini
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 50g butter, cubed
  • 150g plain flour

Optional

  • 1tbsp icing sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Ideally a week ahead of making the mince pies, make the mincemeat. To do this stir together all the ingredients except for the rum in a large bowl. Cover and leave the flavours to develop overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 120c. Tip the contents of the bowl into a deep roasting tray or oven-proof baking dish and cover with foil. Cook for 2 hours, turning gently every 45 minutes or so with a wooden spoon. Add in the rum and stir, then return to the oven, covered, for a further half an hour.
  3. Set the mincemeat aside and allow it to cool to room temperature, stirring a couple of times to keep everything well coated.
  4. Once the mincemeat has cooled down, store in well-sealed, sterilised jars. You can use the mincemeat at this stage, but if you can, leave it for a week or so for the flavours to intensify even more.
  5. When your mincemeat is ready to be used, make the pastry. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the egg yolks and milk and pulse again until the mix comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flour, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the yolks and milk using a cutlery knife). Tip the dough out and shape into a disc using your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 10 minutes.
  6. For the tahini crumble rub the butter and flour together until they resemble rough breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar, tahini and sesame seeds.
  7. Grease your cupcake tray generously with butter. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick and cut out circles to fit the cupcake holes (make sure your circles are big enough to create a deep mince pie- you want a generous amount of filling!). Push the pastry into the holes then fill with the mincemeat (in my large deep fill tray I put about 2 heaped tbsp of filling in each, but judge according to your tin).
  8. Top with a heaped tbsp of the crumble and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the crumble crisp. Enjoy hot from the oven with a dusting of icing sugar and dollop of cream or brandy butter.

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Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

As it’s now officially December ( ie. time to go Christmas mad) I thought I would share my recipe for gingerbread latte cupcakes! These treats are my baked take on the delicious Christmas drinks Costa and Starbucks are serving at this time of year, and are a great alternative to regular gingerbread or ginger biscuits. I’ve made little gingerbread stars to top my cakes, but you could make any shape you like, or sprinkle with glitter instead!

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To make the ginger cupcake mix, you will need (makes 12-15): 300g plain flour, 2tsp ginger, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 220g caster sugar, 150g butter, 60g golden syrup, 2 eggs, 225ml milk.

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) and line a cupcake tin with cases.

Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, spice, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter then whisk together with the syrup, eggs and milk in a jug. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix. Stir until well combined and you are left with a fairly loose batter.

Fill each cupcake case 2/3 full and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, cool on a wire rack.

And to make the coffee frosting, you will need: 500g icing sugar, 140g softened butter, 3tsp very strong espresso

Using an electric whisk, combine the icing sugar, butter and espresso until very smooth. If thick, loosen with a little milk until it reaches a piping consistency.

Pile the buttercream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top with espresso powder and some gingerbread shapes.

Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for Christmas recipes!

A Festive Twist…

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Everyone loves a Bakewell Tart, so why not make my seasonal variation of the classic British dessert this Christmas instead of a batch of mince pies? Sliced up hot or cold, this bake is a real crowd pleaser and gives your jar of mincemeat a much needed make over.

(I know this post might seem a little premature, but this is a bake you can whip up, freeze and serve whenever you need it- ideal for anyone with their hands full this year!)
So, for the pastry you will need: 230g plain flour, 125g unsalted butter (cubed), 3tbsp caster sugar, pinch salt, 2 egg yolks and 3 tbsp whole milk (OR one block readymade short crust pastry)

Rub the flour and butter together between your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and salt then mix.

Tip your egg yolks and milk into the bowl and stir with a knife. Bring the ingredients together with your hands to form a ball, handling as little as possible (the less you handle the pastry the more crumbly and delicious it will be!). If the pastry seems too dry add another teaspoon of milk.

Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for half an hour. In the meantime, grease a 22cm loose bottom tart tin and preheat the oven to 200c (fan).

After 30 minutes, remove your pastry from the fridge (or reach for the pack of readymade!) and flour a work surface. Roll the pastry out to about 4mm thick then line your tart tin, patching up any gaps with excess pastry and pushing it right into the corners.

Blind bake your pastry case for 15 minutes (10 minutes lined with greaseproof paper and baking beans then 5 minutes without) then remove from the oven.

Now, to make your filling and topping you will need:
¾ jar mincemeat, 1 apple (finely chopped), 1tsp cinnamon, zest 1 lemon, 150g caster sugar, 150g butter, 150g ground almonds, 1 large egg and a handful flaked almonds.

Mix the mincemeat, apple, cinnamon and zest then spread generously across the base of your pastry case.

Next, whisk together the sugar, butter, ground almonds and egg until smooth, then dollop all over the mincemeat. Use a palette knife to level out the mix to the edges of the tart case. Finally, sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Turn the oven down to 180c (fan) and pop your tart in to bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin then remove and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of brandy butter or creme fraiche!

Enjoy!

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