“Mince pie and a cuppa?”…the question is music to my ears in this festive season, especially after a long walk in the cold, or a ‘hard’ day of Christmas shopping! There’s nothing more comforting.
Although shop-bought mince pies do vary depending on the brand, they generally all have one thing in common; serious quantities of glucose syrup and added refined sugar when, really, it’s not needed. Occasionally, they get the balance right, but more often than not I find them far too sweet. The beauty of making your own is that they turn out as you want them to – most of the time!
I wanted to make healthy mince pies – refined sugar-free and no artificial sweeteners. And to get baking for the fun of it! I find cooking and baking really therapeutic, particularly around Christmas when our ‘to do’ lists extend, and time seems to go twice as fast. It’s great to slow down and be creative, so if you’re feeling just that little bit stressed or overwhelmed for whatever reason, I urge you to put on your oven gloves; and, if it doesn’t make you feel any calmer, at least you have some tasty festive treats to indulge in, possibly even share! Possibly…
YOU WILL NEED (quantities may vary depending on personal preference):
- 200g Ground almonds
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- Squeeze of Sweet Freedom fruit syrup
- ½ tsp Vanilla essence
- ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground nutmeg
- Zest of ½ an orange
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1.5-2 Apples (chopped up small)
- 250g dried fruits of choice: for example a mix of sultanas, raisins, cranberries, goji berries.
- Juice and zest of 1.5 oranges
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1-1.5 tbsp brandy
- Ground cinnamon to taste
- Ground nutmeg to taste
- 1-2 tbsp Sweet Freedom fruit syrup
- Dash of cranberry juice
Mini tart tins (or disposable foil cases)
Pastry cutters: A circle that’s wider than the circumference of the tin, and a star (or other festive shape of choice) for the top.
- Preheat oven to 160°C fan/ 320°F/ Gas mark 3
- Blend all pastry ingredients, apart from one of the eggs, in a food processor, until it forms a dough-like texture. Keep in the fridge while you make the mince.
- Put the chopped apple, dried fruit, zest, orange juice and brandy into a pan and cook on a low to medium heat. Gradually start adding in the spices, vanilla essence and fruit syrup and keep tasting until you’re happy.
- Continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes until softened, stirring regularly to prevent burning and sticking at the bottom of the pan. Add a dash of cranberry juice if it starts to dry out.
- Meanwhile, grease the mini tart tins with coconut oil.
- Spread out a little flour on a flat surface and roll out your pastry, making sure it’s not too thin (a few millimetres is perfect) and as even as possible. Cut circles and mould them to the tins.
- Bake the bases in the oven for 5 minutes until slightly browned.
- Meanwhile, gather up the remaining pastry, roll it out and cut your stars.
- Fill bases with mincemeat, place a pastry star on each one.
- Whisk the second egg with a fork, and brush over the pies. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over each one, and bake for 15 minutes until golden.
Wait until they’re cool (I usually skip this step…far too impatient) and enjoy!
Merry Christmas 🙂