Having just moved to America, I’m learning new things every day! Ground almonds are called almond meal, chick peas are called garbanzo beans, and Americans look horrified when I offer them a mince pie. I now realise mince pies are just not that popular over this side of the pond. Just to clarify – not all mince pies contain meat. Mincemeat is actually just a sweet jam of dried fruits alcohol and spice. My sister has lived here a while, and she thinks mince pies aren’t popular because Americans don’t like dried fruit. Whatever the reason may be, I would love to convince even one person here that mince pies are absolutely delicious and really should not be missed. In fact, these mince pies are good enough to tempt even the most ardent mince pie hater. Frangipane mince pies are full of buttery nuttiness and toasted almonds. The heady mix of fruit and alcohol (aka the mincemeat) at the bottom, fluffy almond frangipane, and crisp pastry make these the ultimate Christmas indulgence. They taste great with a tea or coffee, and are even strangely delicious with a neat Irish whiskey. So, I really think you should give these mince pies a try. You can also make these gluten free, by using gluten free flour for the pastry. This recipe makes 2 trays of 12.

Ingredients

 Pastry 

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cold milk / water

Mincemeat

Frangipane

  •  7 tablespoons of butter softened
  •  ½ a cup caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp almond extract

 Method

To make the pastry, sieve the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and butter. Next, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the milk/water a little at a time. Bring the pastry together with a fork, until it comes into dough. Take the pastry dough and wrap it in cling wrap. Place it in the fridge and leave it rest for at least thirty minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F.

To make the frangipane, place the butter and the sugar in a food processor, and blitz until it forms a smooth paste. Next, add the egg and blitz until combined. Next, add the ground almonds, almond extract, and flour and blitz until it comes together. Once the pastry has rested, take it from the fridge and remove the cling wrap.

Dust a clean surface with a sprinkling of flour. Roll the pastry out on the floured surface until it is about an eighth of an inch thick. Cut the pastry into rounds with fluted pastry cutter. Place the pastry rounds into a non-stick muffin tin. Place a teaspoon of mince meat into each pastry cup. Next spoon a teaspoon of frangipane mixture on top of the mincemeat. Spread the frangipane evenly on top with the back of a spoon. Scatter some flaked almonds on top of the frangipane. Place in the oven for 20 minutes – or until golden brown. Once cooked, leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes. Once cool, gently remove them from the tin and place on a wire rack. To serve, dust with some icing sugar and some cream/ice-cream on the side. These go especially well with vanilla ice-cream.