Mincemeat and Almond Shortbread
225g (8oz) butter or margarine, softened
110g (4oz) caster sugar
¼ tsp almond essence
225g (8oz) flour
110g (4oz) finely chopped blanched almonds
200g (7oz) mincemeat
I tbsp brandy or whiskey
25-50g (1-2oz) chopped or flaked almonds, to decorate
Springform tin, 23cm (9in) in diameter
Versatile mincemeat deserves better than to be thought of as a single-use ingredient for mince pies. Sunday Independent cookery columnist Brenda Costigan gives this unusual recipe in her new cookbook, From Brenda's Kitchen (Gill & Macmillan, paperback, €19.99). Serves eight.
1 Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/ 325°F/Gas Mark 3 and grease the springform tin. To make the shortbread, beat the butter until soft, then beat in the caster sugar and almond essence until soft and creamy.
2 In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and almonds and beat into the butter/sugar mixture to form a dough. Use your hands to gather the dough into a lump. (If the dough is a bit too soft, put it into the fridge for about 15 minutes.) Divide the dough in two.
3To make the bottom layer, roll out one half of the dough into a small circle. Place it in the base of the tin and press it down with your knuckles or roll with a small jar to cover the base. Make sure there are no holes in the dough.
4To make the filling, mix the brandy into the mincemeat and spread in a layer over the shortbread, leaving a 2.5cm (1in) margin all around the edge. Moisten the margin with water.
5To make the top layer, roll out the remaining dough on a round bread board dusted with flour to almost the same size as the tin, then gently slide the circle of shortbread off the board and on top of the mincemeat. Do this carefully. Press the edges together with a fork to seal, and scatter the chopped almonds over the top. Pierce the top layer (only) with a fork in a number of places to allow steam to escape.
5Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is a pale golden colour and everything is cooked through. Remove from the oven and stand the tin on a wire tray. While it's cooling, loosen the edges with a sharp knife and remove the side of the tin. Allow to cool completely, then cut into thin wedges with a sharp knife.