I sometimes find it hard to believe that I have been living here in Seattle for over 2 years! I think I have assimilated well. I probably speak more like an American-when I go to the grocery store, I say cart instead of trolley for one! I celebrate American holidays, and have forgotten all about those countless European bank holidays 😉 I eat American – now that I know where to find all the great local produce, there is little I miss – with exception of Irish cheese and dairy.
When I came here first, I was intent on converting Americans to mince pies. It failed. When I say the word mincemeat here, many people shudder and think it somehow involves meat. These days mincemeat really is just a combination of dried fruit, winter spices, and alcohol. The next year, I tried a different tack with my plan – I added the mincemeat to the most American thing I could think of – a brownie. It was definitely better received, but it didn’t look like a mince pie. So, this year, I have combined all the ideas and come up with the Christmas Brownie Pie. I’m still working on the name. Essentially, it’s a a boozy, fruit and nut flavored brownie encased in a crisp, butter pastry shell . These treats are the perfect combination of gooey chocolate, crisp pastry, boozy fruit and toasted nuts. In fact, I think they are about the most perfect treat to nibble on while you are wrapping Christmas pressies or decorating the tree. They are divine with a coffee or even better with a Christmas brandy.
Christmas Brownie Pies
- 30g of dried cranberries / cherries/ raisins
- 1 tablespoon of Cointreau/ Whiskey / Brandy
- 1 tablespoon of orange marmalade (thick peel if possible)
- 140g of flour
- 60g of powdered sugar
- 80g of butter, chopped in cubes
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 50g of dark chocolate
- 50g of butter
- 80g of soft brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 50g of flour
- 30g of whole nuts, chopped (brazils/pecans/almonds – preferably roasted and unsalted)
- Whipped cream
- Orange Zest
- Start by putting all the ingredients for the mincemeat into a bowl, and leave to stew as you make the rest of the recipe.
- Next, to make the pastry, sieve the flour into a large bowl.
- Add the sugar and stir to combine.
- Add the butter and rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Then, add the milk a little at a time and use a fork to bring the mixture together into pastry dough. Depending on your brand of flour you may need a little less/more of the milk.
- Gather the pastry into your hands and wrap it in cling wrap. Place the pastry in the fridge and leave to rest for at least an hour.
- Grease 8 compartments of a muffin tin with a little butter.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C.
- To make the brownie mixture, melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
- Using electric beaters or food processor, beat the brown sugar and butter together and gradually add the beaten egg.
- Add the flour to the sugar and butter mixture, and continue to beat.
- Next, add the melted chocolate and beat well.
- Finally stir in the nuts and mincemeat.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 of inch thick.
- Using a 3.5 inch round cookie cutter, cut out 8 pastry circles. You could also cut out rough circles with a knife.
- Line 8 of the muffin tin compartments with the pastry circles.
- Spoon the brownie mixture into the 8 pastry cases.
- Place the pies in the oven and bake for 20-25 minute, just until the pastry is golden and the brownies are cooked in the center.
- Once cooked, allow to cool, then remove the pies and place them on a wire rack.
- Garnish the pies with a little piped whipped cream, and orange zest.